Elevate Difference

Leroy

Leroy is a romantic comedy about a boy born in Germany to one white parent and one black parent. The front of the DVD says it all, depicting a picture of Leroy on top of an orange background; his afro, the size of a planet, surrounded by hearts, Nazis, and his friends and family. Leroy tackles an interesting perspective on modern neo-Nazism and what it looks like in today's Germany. 

Leroy's father is an offbeat inventor, while his mother is involved in city politics. Leroy's best friend and comic relief is a blonde half-Greek boy named Dimitri. Hilarity ensues when Leroy falls in love with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl whose parents are part of the far-right German party which aligns itself with Nazism. She also has five skinhead brothers. Leroy, being faced with the peril of love with a Nazi's daughter, is forced to confront his black identity, something he had never thought about until then. Delving conveniently into a store that specializes in “black power” and black literature and film, Leroy begins to research black history, with an emphasis on the American civil rights movement. Leroy even takes on fashionable accessories in a slapstick sequence as part of his mission to find his black identity, such as a long brown coat similar to the one from the movie Shaft and glasses in the style of Malcolm X.

This film is a particularly interesting look at "black consciousness" from a black German's perspective. Although some of the jokes are done in an over-the-top, slapstick fashion, Leroy is a smart look at what it means to be different in our modern society, where racism isn't as prevalent on the surface, but instead is more subversive. 

At times, when the film does address heavy questions of racial identity, it tends to fall back on silly jokes and the exchanging of zany one-liners between Leroy and the Nazi brothers, when it could have pushed through these motifs in a little more conclusive fashion. The end even seems a bit forced as they try to wrap up everything into a perfectly happy ending. (No kidding!) Despite these few flaws, Leroy does have some genuinely funny moments, such as when Dimitri tries a "hair removal product for Greeks and half-Greeks" or the fun little dance number involving Leroy and his girlfriend's five Nazi brothers, which plays during the credits. Overall, I would recommend this film for it's lightheartedness and unabashed look at racial identity in a non-American society. 

Written by: Chrissie Thornburg, March 30th 2009

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