Director Mark Brokaw’s Flat Spinning Into Butter


At an elite Vermont college, a self-identifying Nuyorican student (Victor Rasuk) fumes over having to identify himself as Hispanic to receive his minority scholarship, a compromise advised by Dean of Students and general purveyor of liberal guilt Sarah Daniels (Sarah Jessica Parker). Meanwhile, when an undergrad receives racist threats (“The Story of Little Black Sambo,” giving the film its title), the hate crime brings excessive attention to the school via local TV reporter Aaron Carmichael (Mykelti Williamson). Director Mark Brokaw’s flat, over-dollied adaptation of Rebecca Gilman’s sanctimonious play (co-scripted by Gilman and Doug Atchison) approaches its ideas of reverse racism and the hypocrisies of tolerance with a heavy hand and odious moralizing. “You want me to solve racism with a bulleted list?” Sarah asks a member of her out-of-touch administration, then admits in a heated moment that she left her post at a predominantly African-American university because black people were loud and scary. Every line of dialogue sounds contrived, right up to the phony-baloney twist ending and Aaron’s sincere rejoinder to Sarah: “Most people are racist. They just don’t know that they’re racist.”