For all their faults, movies like Get Rich Or Die Tryin' that aspire to art and fail are infinitely preferable to forgettable efforts like In The Mix, which aspires only to separate gullible teenyboppers from their allowances. Like Get Rich, In The Mix is primarily an exercise in pop mythology, a bid to transfer superstardom from one lucrative medium to another. But where Get Rich was crafted from the spare parts of 50 Cent's life story, In The Mix has a one-size-fits-all quality. It's about a hotshot DJ who falls for a mafia princess, but remove the hip-hop window dressing and the borderline nonsensical slang and it could just as easily be an ancient Al Jolson vehicle about a vaudevillian who falls for a bootlegger's daughter.
In a role that provides an excellent showcase for his boyish good looks and well-defined pectoral muscles, if not his acting skills, Usher Raymond stars as an aspiring music mogul who becomes the bodyguard for mobster Chazz Palminteri's pampered daughter (Emmanuelle Chriqui) after taking a bullet for her. Raymond and Chriqui then proceed to fall in love, much to the chagrin of Palminteri and his underworld affiliates. Jacqueline Zambrano's witless script mistakes exposition for in-depth characterization, making the film's elaborate back-stories do the heavy lifting. Hence, Raymond and Chriqui's much-discussed past (Raymond's dad worked for Palminteri) is supposed to explain much of their attraction despite the glaring lack of chemistry between the two leads.
In a sop to Raymond's teen-idol status, he's the eye candy here, but it's never a promising sign when a film's female romantic lead comes off as less appealing than the army of groupies wolfishly leering at Raymond wherever he goes. Then again, maybe all of In The Mix's failings are beside the point. All Usher fans really seem to want out of a movie like this is an opportunity to ogle their idol for an hour and a half. And that's all this movie affords them.