The American Society of Magical Negroes Blu-ray Review


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Kobi Libii
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Justice Smith, David Alan-Grier, An-Li Bogan, Rupert Friend
  • Dubbed: ‏ : ‎ Spanish
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English, French, Spanish
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Studio Distribution Services
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Blu-ray, Subtitled
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 14, 2024


        When The American Society of Magical Negroes released its theatrical trailer featuring a scene in which scared white people are purported to be more dangerous than any other animal on the planet, it was met with a lot of backlash. Some were offended by the prejudicial response to a historically racist society, and while it is true that two wrongs don’t make a right, they do make for mildly amusing satire. But it’s all handled lightheartedly, and I was never offended, even without the use of magic to placate me. Unfortunately, the ending loses sight of what makes the film enjoyable and halts the plot for a speech as preachy as the one given in Barbie.


        Playing off the cinematic trope of Magical Negroes, black characters who seemingly exist to serve and appease the Caucasian characters of the narrative, The American Society of Magical Negroes follows a young biracial artist named Aren (Justice Smith) when he discovers he has a gift. Aren is introduced to the magic he is capable, along with the society of black people sharing these abilities, by a bartender named Roger (David Alan Grier) who takes pity on the young man during an unsuccessful art show. After learning the skill of making white people feel better, Aren is tasked with the job of helping an entitled white man working for a social media site.


        Aren takes a job at the company as it suffers bad publicity from racial recognition flaws in the new programming, hoping to boost the morale of his white co-worker Jason (Drew Tarver). Despite Aren’s knack for using his magic to help, the situation becomes complicated when both Jason and Aren develop feelings for their colleague, Lizzie (An-Li Bogan). Aren can’t pursue these feelings without Jason’s ego taking a hit, which could result in a dangerous white man and the loss of magical abilities.


        Part of the problem with the film is tonal inconsistencies. While the romance is lighthearted and predictably good-natured, this often feels at odds with the satirical elements of the film’s premise. This makes the two elements feel at battle with each other, weighing down the romance with social commentary that never digs beneath the surface in any meaningful way. There is nothing outrageously offensive about the film, despite the controversy and pushback from some sensitive audience members. Unfortunately, there also isn’t much that’s particularly impactful. It is also somewhat problematic that a film criticizing the stereotypical use of black characters in film doesn’t do much to give its characters a life beyond those tropes.


        The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release for The Magical Society of Magical Negroes comes with a digital code in addition to the high-definition disc. The special features on the disc are highlighted by a commentary track with writer/director Kobi Libii, along with three featurettes. The featurettes are fairly surface and just feel promotional rather than informative, though the commentary track provides more insight into the intentions behind the filmmaking.


Entertainment Value: 6.5/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10

Historical Significance:  4/10

Special Features: 5/10


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