Picks and Pans Review: MTV's Hip Hopera

UPDATED 05/07/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/07/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

Carmen
MTV (Tues., May 8, 8 p.m. ET)

Let hipper critics judge the rhymes in this rap revision of Georges Bizet's 1875 opera ("So soothing and calming/ She's the furthest thing from common" sounds a little off to these tired ears). I will venture to say that Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny's Child is plenty hot as the seductive title character, while Mekhi Phifer (A Lesson Before Dying) conveys the conflicting feelings of the cop she brings to ruin. And a sly Mos Def nearly steals the show as a law officer without an ethical bone in his body. The film fails to attain an operatic level of emotion, and director Robert Townsend starts recycling his Hollywood Shuffle material when Carmen tries to launch an acting career. But this is an interesting experiment.

Bottom Line: Worth a try

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