The Come Up

Matthew A. Cherry won an Oscar for his 2019 short film Hair Love, which he wrote, produced, and directed, and now he’s lined up his first feature film since taking home his Academy Award. He’ll direct The Come Up, a heist comedy starring Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), the Lucas Brothers (22 Jump Street), and Jermaine Fowler (Sorry to Bother You).

Collider reports that Cherry will step behind the camera for The Come Up, which is being described as a cross between F. Gary Gray’s 1995 comedy Friday and Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 remake of Ocean’s 11.

Plot specifics are being kept behind roving laser beams in a vault somewhere deep underground, but we know the concept was cooked up by actor Jermaine Fowler, who has acted in Sorry to Bother You, Crashing, BoJack Horseman, and the upcoming Coming 2 America. He’s also a writer and producer, having written on shows like Superior Donuts and Friends of the People. Fowler will executive produce the film, and he’ll star opposite Lil Rel Howery and the Lucas Brothers. Michael Starrbury, who created the animated series Legends of Chamberlain Heights, was a writer on Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, and wrote indie film The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, will write the script.

“I feel soooo damn lucky to have Matthew Cherry onboard to helm this film,” Fowler said in a statement. “He’s a brilliant filmmaker whose vibes are genuinely reminiscent of the people that inspired the original concept of the project. I know he will let everyone involved shine and execute a hilarious comedy with a profound message. Plus, he promised that I could hold his Oscar one day.”

I love heist films, and I love watching how modern filmmakers navigate whether they’re going to either lean into the established template for making them or subvert the audience’s expectations by zagging when we think they’re going to zig. (To see a movie that hits the sweet spot of doing both of those things in the same film, check out the 2018 indie American Animals.) But for me, by far the most interesting thing about The Come Up is that it’s a heist movie led by a Black cast. Here’s a quick experiment: pull up a list of heist movies, and try to count how many of them have Black leads. Spoiler alert: you won’t get very far. I’m glad Cherry will have the opportunity to (slightly) move the needle on that front, and hopefully his acclaim from Hair Love will bring some extra attention to this project.

Speaking of Hair Love, if you never got around to watching that Oscar-winning short, you can do so below:

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