‘Who Made the Potatoe Salad?’ is definitely not the best movie you have ever seen

OPINION: The best thing about the kinda, sorta ensemble cast romantic comedy is Clifton Powell doing Clifton Powell things for an hour and a half, which makes the world a better place.

Scene from "Who Made the Potatoe Salad?" (Screenshot via YouTube)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I have one hard-and-fast rule about my movie viewing: If Clifton Powell is in the movie, I am absolutely going to watch it. If you know anything about Clifton Powell’s filmography then you know that means there are hundreds of films at my disposal. I can’t say I’ve seen all 200-plus films he’s been in, but I’ve seen a sizable percentage. 

One of those movies that Clifton Powell is that I watched purely because of him is the 2006 film, “Who Made the Potatoe Salad?” Listen, this is not a good movie. It’s not even that funny though the premise is somewhat funny. Let’s delve in. 

“Who Made the Potatoe Salad?” is a movie starring Jaleel White as Michael — I’m not sure what his last name is, and I can’t find it online. It’s unimportant. Michael is a bumbling idiot and San Diego police officer who proposes to his girlfriend, Ashley Jenkins (Jenna Frederique). Michael and Ashley go to her home in Los Angeles to share the news with her family over Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, her family is a mess … and most importantly, they hate cops. Ashley’s father is a former Black Panther, her brother is a pseudo-gang member and her brother-in-law is on probation. Cop jokes fly around and the family gives Michael such a hard time that this idiot decides to stage a break-in at their family home to save the day.

As you can imagine, the family shenanigans (and his foolywang with the fake break-in) cause a rift between Michael and Ashley though ultimately it works out. None of that is important because frankly, if you start watching it, I’ll be surprised if you make it to the end. And do you know I would be surprised? I’d be surprised because this movie is terrible. I’m not even sure there was a script; perhaps script writers cost too much money so everybody was told to just give it all they had on the improv work. Granted, Clifton Powell and Ella Joyce are amazing — Ella Joyce plays Ashley’s mother — but DeRay Davis who plays Ashley’s brother Junebug is just plain ridiculous; he’s not even a little bit funny. 

The title is the best part of the film; it isn’t hard to understand why you might be sifting through the movies on demand and see a movie called “Who Made the Potatoe Salad?” and see the cast of characters including Reynaldo Ray, Tiny Lister, Eddie Griffin, etc. and be inclined to give it a whirl. In the Black community, potato salad can be divisive. In the case of this film, which spells potato with the “e” on the end, it is even more divisive, though really I’m not even sure why it’s the title of the movie. I don’t even see it as some kind of overarching theme, though it does cause the family to dunk on one another about how bad the food is, which I suppose leads to the temporary downfall of Michael and Ashley’s relationship. 

What I will say is that I love Clifton Powell and he’s always good. In this movie his fatherly instincts and annoyances and zingers throughout are the only actual enjoyable part of the film itself. To that end, watch the movie just because Clifton Powell is one of the greatest talents of our generation and deserves all of the flowers. Other than that, there is literally no other reason to watch this movie that’s barely about potato salad (which might actually make for a fun Black murder-mystery type deal) and feels like somebody had $25 sitting around and was like, “Let’s make a movie.” 

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Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.