Retro Reviewing: “Set it Off”

Episode Transcribed by GustavChristoff

Danielle: So, hi everybody.

Rina: Welcome.

Danielle: Welcome to–this is the 12th episode of Retro Reviewing.

Katie: Has it really been 12 already?

Danielle: This is the 12th.

Katie: Wow.

Rina: I have to say, I can’t watch a movie now without giving it a gay magic scale anymore.

Denae: I know.

Danielle: I know, we’re changed forever.

Rina: It’s kind of a problem.

Danielle: We have Denae with us again.

Katie: Yaay.

Danielle: Who spells her name with an E, not an A.

Denae: That was the kicker.

Rina: We did a whole skit on how their name started the same.

Danielle: We did.

Denae: Bear with me; it takes awhile for me to figure out how to spell my name.

Danielle: It happens.

Denae: I’m back.

Danielle: It does happen, but anyway, today on our 12th episode we are reviewing Set It Off which is 1996.

Katie: -ish.

Danielle: Mid-nineties-ish. I’m pretty sure it’s ’96. We’ll scroll. If I’m wrong, we’ll scroll it on the bottom. Staring basically the, at the time, the up and coming African American actresses. We have Queen Latifah, we have Jada Pinkett who’s later Jada Pinkett-Smith, uh, Kimberley Elise.

Katie: What else was she in?

Rina: Vivica A. Fox.

Danielle: That’s right; Vivica A. Fox is also in a major role here.

Katie: Is Kimberly Elise in anything else?

Danielle: I think she is.

Denae: Yeah, I can’t think of anything.

Danielle: We’ll scroll. We’ll scroll all sorts of good things.

Rina: And Queen Latifah, I was trying to look up on the internet whether or not she was gay or not.

Katie: She says she fully denies it now.

Danielle: She denies it.

Katie: She’s with her trainer.

Denae: It’s still debatable.

Rina: She denies it but there’s still…

Danielle: There are all kinds of rumors.

Rina: There’s advertisements, oh, not advertisements, newspaper articles.

Katie: Advertisements saying she’s gay.

Danielle: “I’m gay!”

Rina: That say she’s getting married to her trainer.

Danielle: She’s denied it.

Rina: But she denies it but there’s all kinds of.

Katie: I don’t know why she won’t just come out.

Rina: It’s like, she is so gay.

Danielle: So, the main premise of the movie is four women who are really down and out, four African American women.

Rina: Sick of the system, the system’s not treating them right.

Danielle: Yes, yes, uh, one woman works in the bank.

Katie: And gets fired because…

Danielle: Because, uh.

Rina: Her bank gets robbed and she happens to know the guy.

Katie: She witnessed this in front of her face right, someone gets shot right in front of her!

Danielle: It’s traumatic.

Rina: And she doesn’t do the proper procedure.

Denae: “Don’t you remember the procedure?”

Rina: No, not when a gun is to your head.

Katie: Oh! What’s the guy from Scrubs‘ name?

Rina: Guy from Scrubs.

Denae: I don’t know.

Danielle: I don’t know, he’s in The Rock too.

Denae: That guy.

Danielle: No, but he, everyone treats her like she’s a criminal and she witnessed a traumatic experience, and she just gets fired like it’s nothing, and all these women have terrible experiences. One of them has to sleep with a guy to get money for her brother.

Rina: To go to college.

Denae: And then it turns out he didn’t get accepted to college.

Rina: Didn’t get accepted, and then he gets shot.

Katie: By the cops.

Danielle: He’s killed by the cops. It’s just these, these horrific circumstances they live in and what, they become janitors after a time, paid under the table and they can’t even afford any of their bills.

Rina: Oh, and T.T.’s son gets taken away.

Denae: Yep. Because he got hurt when they were on the job.

Danielle: That’s right.

Rina: Because they were on the job because she couldn’t afford a babysitter.

Danielle: So it’s really an examination sort of building up and building up of this rage and frustration at this system.

Katie: So what do you do? Rob a bank.

Denae: Set It Off.

Danielle: Rob banks, and become, you know, I guess the most successful bank robbers in history, and they do all these heists, and get all this money.

Katie: Can we talk about how easy they make it look?

Danielle: They make it look like, so easy.

Denae: Can we talk about how little their money was at the beginning?

Rina: Yeah, the first heist, the first heist that they do they go 12,000 dollars, and we’re like “That’s 3,000 dollars each.”

Denae: 3,000 dollars each, yeah.

Rina: That’s pretty much risk your life for 3,000 dollars, which would last me a week.

Denae: With the price of gas now.

Rina: I know! Seriously!

Denae: But that was back then, inflation.

Danielle: True, this was 12 years ago, I mean.

Rina: That’s true, that’s true the price of gas was cheaper back then.

Katie: You know what I wish we could do, if we didn’t get arrested was to actually go in a bank, try to rob it to see how easy it was, and then be like “Just kidding!”

Danielle: And then bring it home, and there is this part of the premise, there’s this wonderful scene where they’re doing a Godfather send-off, and they’re just starting to get rich, and they’re starting to have this money.

Rina [with Italian accent]: So Danielle, do you think that Denae is ready to become on the Retro show?

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: Are you ready to take the first dollar?

Rina [with Italian accent]: Are you ready to be part of the family?

Denae [with Italian accent]: I’m ready

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: The family has gone back hundreds of years.

Rina [with Italian accent]: You have to understand, we have very strict rules at the Retro Review show.

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: You can’t swear.

Rina [with Italian accent]: You can swear a little bit.

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: You can’t talk about sex.

Rina [with Italian accent]: You can talk about it a little bit.

Denae [with Italian accent]: Why not?

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: You can’t show any fornication between a man and a woman, two women, or two men.

Rina [with Italian accent]: Just women, just women.

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: Two women together.

Rina [with Italian accent]: Just women. In our Retro Review show, it’s all about the women.

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: And the Washingtons.

Denae [with Italian accent]: I process this.

Rina [with Italian accent]: You can’t process Denae, you can’t process.

Denae [with Italian accent]: I won’t do it; I’m all about the women.

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: The women and the Washingtons, together.

Denae [with Italian accent]: The women and the Washingtons.

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: The women and the Washingtons, high fives.

Danielle: Fun stuff.

Rina: Because they’re janitors at a really nice hotel, it’s huge.

Katie: Oh yeah.

Danielle: They’re surrounded by luxury, but they can’t touch it until they start to make money themselves. Illegally or not, they’re getting money now, so.

Rina: It’s all, this movie’s all about the frustrations of the minority community, and just feeling like, because for women it’s very difficult, for minority women even more so. To just even get money, and just, the whole system’s not built for that and a mother with a child, she can’t afford day care, you know. A brother trying to get into college, he can’t afford it.

Denae: Doesn’t have a scholarship.

Rina: Right, and they’re living in the projects, so I think it deals with a lot of racial issues.

Danielle: She’s getting fired, and it’s basically because she’s racially profiled, when they fired her, like “Oh you knew this guy so clearly you were working with him.”

Rina: But it was just that she happened to live in the projects with this guy. She knows him, so it’s not like she–

Danielle: She was traumatized; she had nothing to do with it.

Rina: Not like she got the guy to do it, she just knew him, and what, she’s just guilty by association, guilty by where she was born. What? What, you know. Anyway.

Danielle: And, and oh, sorry. Just one last part of the premise is that Queen Latifah is, shockingly enough, playing a lesbian.

Rina: Oh yes, the gay thing.

Katie: Yeah she is!

Danielle: This is the whole gay part of the movie.

Rina: The gay thing, Queen Latifah’s gay.

Denae: The 15 minutes shown of it.

Danielle: She has a silent girlfriend who’s really hot.

Katie: She doesn’t say a word, a word.

Danielle: Strips a lot, but she doesn’t talk much.

Rina: You know what’s funny? When we watched it, we noticed that, actually, they all mention how she doesn’t talk, so the character doesn’t.

Danielle: It’s true.

Rina: I mean, I do think it’s kind of strange.

Katie: Ever, how she doesn’t ever talk.

Danielle: Never speaks, she’s mute.

Rina: Remember when they’re all talking, she comes out and meets Queen Latifah and gives her a hug and a kiss, everyone’s like “Oh there’s the girl that doesn’t talk.”

Denae: They probably didn’t have enough money in the budget to pay her.

Rina: No, I think they wrote, yeah.

Denae: No speaking lines.

Danielle: Oh, so true.

Rina: Yeah, she didn’t get a speaking line.

Denae: Yeah, maybe she was a mime on the side, it’s possible.

Rina: Oh, but then there’s that one scene where she’s…

Danielle: Stripper mime?

Denae: Stripper mime.

Danielle: So let’s go into good, bad, and ugly; we’re starting with the good. What do we think?

Rina: Ugh, this movie’s excellent, like, I don’t know, like, I mentioned it when we mentioned it, it was like “Oh my God, Set It Off, it’s such a great movie.” It’s just one of those movies that are just–it’s just great isn’t it?

Denae: It’s packed with a lot of action. You’re kind of on the edge of your seat. And I, like you said, I think it’s good also because you find yourself getting drawn into the char, the story and really feeling for them you know?

Rina: Oh, you feel angry.

Denae: You feel angry.

Rina: Like, Ohh, man that’s not fair.

Katie: I totally didn’t care that they robbed banks, I’m like “Hell yeah.”

Rina: It definitely humanizes the criminal I guess, you know.

Danielle: Yeah, it’s definitely a kind of “down with the man” kind of thing which is always fun. I mean, it’s kind of a fantasy thing like, you know what? Take matters into your own hands, rob a bank, why not.

Denae: And it’s important to point out that at the beginning, two of them wanted to do it, and two didn’t but until something happened to them, then they wanted to do it.

Katie: One of them backed down at the beginning, she didn’t actually do it, but she still got the money.

Rina: Right, and it’s still the idea that the system is not made for women, not made for minorities, and just kind of feeling frustrated and like wanting to change things for yourself, make your life better, but you can’t. No matter where you turn, the cops get you, you get fired, and you lose your children.

Denae: Your boss steals all your money.

Katie, Danielle: Oh, yeah!

Danielle: And also I really, and this is so cheesy, but I love the sound track.

Katie: I was too, I was watching this today and like…

Rina: That folk song is so good in the sex scene.

Rina, Denae, Danielle: “It’s going to be, ’cause I can’t pretend.”

Rina: Oh my God, we’re totally singing it.

Danielle, Rina, Katie, and Denae: “Don’t you want to be, more that friends.”

Rina: Sex scene, sex scene, let’s talk about the sex scene!

Danielle: Rating the sex scene!

Denae: There were a couple, there were a couple.

Rina: There was a couple.

Katie: I would just rate. Where was the other?

Danielle: Okay, let’s just rate the main one.

Rina: The main sex scene.

Danielle: There were some bad ones too.

Katie: There were some bad ones.

Rina: The main one with the song. Her tushie was so delish.

Katie: So nice.

Denae: Magnificent.

Rina: Delish, delish, delish.

Danielle: Magna cum laude? Is that what you said?

Denae: No, but you took the words right out of my mouth.

Katie: Do you think it’s hers? I think we should have a debate about whether it’s actually hers.

Danielle: Does she have a butt double?

Katie: Or is that her butt?

Denae: I know, it’s a booty double.

Rina: You know what? I don’t even want to go there; I want to just think it’s her butt.

Danielle: Also, how does it compare with Cheryl Dunye, from The Watermelon Woman? Who has a better tushie?

Denae: It was close.

Rina: They both had nice tushies.

Danielle: We can say they’re both good.

Rina: They both had nice tushies. That and just the fact that they used that oil.

Katie: I thought that was a bit cheesy though with the rose petals and the candles.

Danielle: He was a little cheesy though.

Katie: But I love Blaire Underwood though. He’s hot.

Danielle: He is hot.

Katie: Are we allowed to say that?

Danielle: Of course we can say he’s hot.

Rina: I, seriously, like the whole time they’re about to do the last heist, like I’m just thinking, “Girl, don’t do the heist, marry this man, have lots of sex with him, just don’t even go there.” I mean, you know, he was just the perfect man.

Denae: “My friends are having tough times; can you pay for them too?” “Throw them in the limo.”

Danielle: He was a little bit of the perfect guy.

Denae: He creeped me out though, I was waiting for him to turn into an ax murderer.

Danielle: He was a little too perfect, yeah.

Rina: Oh my gosh, so my roommate was walking by when she saw, there was a scene where, um, he, what was it that she was wearing?

Denae: Like this fire red dress.

Katie: The kimono she was wearing?

Rina: She was wearing this red dress.

Denae: She looked like a Crayola.

Rina: And she said, “Oh, I told Frankie I looked like a box of crayons.” And he told her, “Oh, we’ve got to change that dress.” and he buys her a new dress and gets her hair all done, and my roommate walked by and she’s like, “Oh, that man is gay honey! She gets her; He gets her a new wardrobe and fixes her hair? That man is gay, men like that don’t exist.”

Denae: Either that or a control freak.

Rina: But I thought he was great actually.

Danielle: He was pretty good.

Rina: He, actually, he’s–

Danielle: The only good guy in the movie.

Rina: Right, and he, you know, I think, you know, I guess I could move on to a little bit of my bad, but I was thinking about this movie, and I was thinking about this bad reputation, and the women are rebelling against the system, and instead of doing something positive, they do something negative so I kind of had an issue with that, but then when I, when he is talking to her, he says “What are you planning on doing in five years?” And she didn’t have an answer and she was like “See, this is the problem.” And so I feel like he’s kind of the voice of reason, like you have to think five years ahead of time. Like I was thinking, like when we were watching the movie, okay so you rob a bank now, you get 3,000 dollars, now what? The money is going to run out, you’re going to have to do it again, like, what are you going to do five years from now. There’s no, there’s nothing about the future at all. No, all the acting was fabulous.

Danielle: Oh acting was fantastic.

Rina: Everybody was so good, the production value was high, the story gets you, and I mean it’s such a great movie. The acting was great. Queen Latifah was crazy in this movie.

Danielle: Yeah.

Denae: She didn’t think much.

Rina: She was crazy; remember her just shooting up her gun like “Woohoo!” She was, she was yelling when she got the 3,000 dollars, she was like “Woohoo! 3,000 dollars!”

Danielle [as Frankie]: Moneymoneymoneymoney!

Denae: Money!

Rina [as Cleo]: Yeaah!

Danielle [as Frankie]: Money!

Rina: I’ve got it.

Danielle [as Frankie]: Money!

Rina [as Cleo]: Wait!

Danielle [as Frankie]: Money!

Rina [as Cleo]: Wait, how much is that for each of us? How much?

Danielle [as Frankie]: Uh…

Denae [as Stony]: A dollar.

Rina [as Cleo]: That’s it?

Danielle [as Frankie]: Well, yeah.

Rina [as Cleo]: Well wooo!

Denae [as Stony]: Wooo!

Rina [as Cleo]: Anyways ’cause that’s great.

Danielle [as Frankie]: Yeah, however, I think we should rob another one.

Denae [as Stony]: I agree.

Danielle [as Frankie]: I don’t know how, I mean, your brother’s not going to college.

Denae [as Stony]: No, definitely not.

Danielle [as Frankie]: On three dollars.

Rina [as Cleo]: Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m buying a candy bar.

Danielle: So, let’s move on to the bad.

Katie: The bad.

Danielle: What’s bad about this film?

Katie: Well, I didn’t like Dr. Dre in this movie, I thought he was bad.

Rina: Oh my God, we thought he was fabulous.

Danielle: Cheesy.

Denae: I thought he was funny.

Katie: I just thought he was bad.

Rina: What was it when he was looking at his women and he saw them on television and he was like “Yeah, that’s my women.” you know, or something. Wasn’t it?

Denae: I forget the way he said it.

Danielle: He seemed proud though, very proud.

Denae: He was, but he wasn’t going to get his cut anymore.

Danielle: Oh, that’s true.

Denae: That’s a, that’s a bust. I would say the bads, I wrote a couple things. Rule number one, don’t date teller while robbing bank. Rule number two don’t put wigs on in the hall of the bank.

Rina: Oh yeah, can we talk about the wigs?

Denae: They were like ready to rob the bank, there’s people walking in and out and they’re like “Oh, we’re putting our wigs on now.” And I was like–

Rina: There’s something those women should learn from the gay community. If you’re going to rob a bank, and you’re women: bind, honey, bind; and no wig. Pretend you’re a man and put on a beard.

Denae: Oh, um, it really bothered me that Queen Latifah, every time she stole a car would throw the cds out with her fingerprints, I was like “What are you doing?”

Katie: She never got caught for that though? They never actually fingerprinted her?

Denae: They did, they found her, they matched her up to it because I think she was already in the system, she had a prior record.

Danielle: That’s not smart.

Denae: Not the smartest thing to do.

Katie: Well it’s not like she’s the smartest person.

Danielle: That’s true.

Denae: That’s true, she was the one who really, who they.

Rina: She was the loose cannon, which really kind of frustrated me, it was like, they don’t think about the future at all. Like, I’m like “hello.” Like they didn’t even have a plan like “were going to steal this money and then…” And I was thinking like, put it in a 401K, like, you know, let’s diversify our portfolio they had no plans about what they were going to do.

Denae: You have to keep in mind though, you can’t deposit too much–then the IRS finds out.

Katie: That’s true.

Denae: I don’t know how I know this.

Danielle: We learn so much about you guys on this vlog, and how much you think about these lives of crime things.

Rina: Well, you start to think about it.

Denae: I grew up in a rough neighborhood. No.

Danielle: Well, hey, I mean, yeah.

Denae: So, any other bads?

Danielle: The love story was.

Denae: I didn’t like the ending.

Danielle: The ending was a little tough. The love story was a little too cheesy. I felt like he was too perfect, I felt like he was a little too much of the perfect man.

Rina: Well you get the Cinderella story, you know. Which I think it was important for a movie like this to have a positive role model, because none of these people are positive role models.

Danielle: Yeah.

Rina: And I think, sorry I’m going back to The Watermelon Woman. If you haven’t seen the blog on The Watermelon Woman, check it out.

Danielle: Watch it.

Rina: Watch the movie, it was a positive representation of black women, and this, you know, like “Oh yeah, the system doesn’t work for you, turn to a life of crime.” No, we don’t need that.

Danielle: As the message.

Rina: The minority community doesn’t need that.

Danielle: I think we’re going to go into our ratings now.

Rina: Are there any other bads, or are we pretty much just.

Danielle: I think we should rate.

Rina: Yeah.

Danielle: I think we’re running out of tape, so we should do our ratings.

Denae: Okay, awesome.

Danielle: So our ratings, as always, a one to five on the scale of gay magic.

Rina: Gay magic.

Denae: Magic.

Rina: Gay magical, oooh.

Danielle: Let’s start on the other end.

Denae: I’m going to say a three and a half. I didn’t like love it, I mean, I loved all the actresses, I thought they were great actresses. I just, I didn’t love the ending, and, again, not that everything has to be that much of a pick-me-upper, but it was just so much of a downer.

Katie, Danielle: Bwa wa. [Like in the SNL Debbie Downer sketch.]

Denae: There was just, but seriously, I didn’t like it. It was like, but um, you know, that’s how I got. But there was, terms of actual gay magic, there was only like one scene.

Rina: Oh, there wasn’t very gay magical.

Danielle: Small but gay.

Denae: There was one scene, and then Queen Latifah shoots up a bank.

Rina: Oh yeah, her girlfriend never speaks.

Denae: She doesn’t even talk. Give the woman a part, I mean.

Katie: If she’s actually mute, just say it. So I don’t know if she’s mute or if she can speak.

Danielle: So what would you give it?

Rina: 4.5.

Danielle: Woooo.

Katie: Woah.

Rina: I would have given it a five because it is one of my favorites, but like I said.

Danielle: High roller.

Rina: Like I said, representation, I feel like, I just, you know, let’s provide more positive role models and not negative ones. I think that’s my only thing. But, I love this movie, it’s high energy, it’s very fun. Love Queen Latifah in it, they were all great, and very sexy.

Danielle: Yeah.

Denae: They are.

Rina: They’re all beautiful, gay magical they’re all beautiful.

Katie: Okay, I would give it a 3.25. I do like how it’s an action movie based around four women, because I think, besides Charlie’s Angel’s, there’s not many women action movies.

Denae: Not a lot.

Rina: That’s true. Just like Pulp Fiction a little bit too, like how it has that feel.

Katie: And I like that Queen Latifah being gay is not a factor, and no one mentions it and no one cares. Besides the fact that their relationship is nothing, and there’s no sex.

Rina: No lesbian sex scene.

Katie: And I hated the ending, I hated the ending.

Denae: Yeah, me too.

Katie: They shouldn’t have all died. I wanted them all to live happily ever after together in Mexico with all their money.

Denae: Yep, me too.

Rina: Oh, to have a life of crime, even though…

Danielle: I’m giving it a 3.75. Again, I love the actresses, and I love how this is almost, like one of the first big movies that they were all in. They were all sort of just starting out, and there’s just so much talent in this movie. That was just, just so amazing. And I love the soundtrack so much and I do really like the story.

Katie, Rina: [start singing]

Danielle: Wow.

Rina: Sorry, that got out of hand.

Danielle: No, I said I loved it, and–

Katie: It’s even better when we sing it.

Danielle: And I really like how it’s sort of like an urban, darker version of like a Sex and the City almost, like with the four friends.

Katie: I was thinking that! Sex and the City with the four of them.

Danielle: Were you thinking that?

Katie: That did cross my mind.

Danielle: So it’s sort of like this crime, darker version of that, and I really love how it’s empowering. Even if it is the wrong sort of empowering, I agree, but at least there is some sort of power fantasy for like an African American woman who absolutely has nothing in the world, you know, to take it all into her own hands. That’s really appealing to me, like with the guns. So 3.75, it’s not perfect, but I really like what it does.

Rina: Yeah it’s kind of…

Danielle: So next time, if you want to watch along with our little Retro Reviewing film club thing.

Rina: Yeah, you guys should watch the movies with us, it’s fun.

Danielle: Watch the movies. Tell us what you think, tell us where we’re wrong and right, and we’re doing Bound next week, so everybody with their plumber fantasies.

Denae: Get ready.

Danielle: Get ready, and get your tool belts.

Rina: And that movie will definitely be more gay magical than Set It Off.

Danielle: Set It Off is slightly gay magical, but this one is extremely gay magical.

Rina: Lots of gay magic.

Denae: A lot of gay magic.

Katie: And lesbo sex!

Danielle: Plenty, plenty of it, well at least in the beginning of the movie. So yeah, check us next time. Thank you as always for the comments, always send us more, we read them obsessively.

Rina: And we will comment.

Danielle: We will, we love it, we love doing this, so thank you guys.

Rina: Thank you.

Katie: See you next time.

Rina, Denae: Bye.

Danielle [as the Brando Godfather]: Are you ready for the first dollar we make.

Denae: I’m ready.

Rina: Now you are part of the family.

Off Camera: Money money money. Money.

Rina: Woooo!

Watch the episode here.