It’s quite an investment to go see movies these days. You have to pay for a babysitter ($20), pay for a cab ($20), buy your ticket ($20), maybe even get some popcorn ($20), and eventually you’ll need to pee ($20). By the time you’re finished, your fun movie night might put you back as much as two hundred bucks.

So the memory must be priceless. As a filmmaker, it’s my job to make sure that you spend that hard-earned money on the most entertaining product possible, and I take that job very seriously. So on that note, I present to you Precious: Based on the Novel Sapphire by Push. I know competition is fierce so I’ll get right to the point and give you three reasons why you should see Precious. One: it’s really too bad that we stole this country from black people, but if you can cry at their current misfortune you will feel even more certain that you had nothing to do with that shit. Two: Pretty Popstars going ugly. And three: Awesome 3D! (IMAX only)

Precious is all about this girl named Precious who is just having one of those days, man. First off, she sleeps in. After that, she goes to the bathroom only to find her mom used the last of the toilet paper without replacing the roll. While in the shower she gets shampoo in her eyes. Instead of “Car Talk” like usual, NPR is rerunning “A Prairie Home Companion”. When she finally gets to school she thinks the worst is behind her. But no, they kick her out because she’s fat, ugly, illiterate, pregnant with her 2nd incestuous rape-baby, and won’t perform the “Truffle Shuffle” for the school board. Everyday is Monday to Precious.

She heads home to tell her mom, Precious Prime (played by Queen Latifah), the bad news. Precious Prime doesn’t take it well. She calls Precious a bunch of mean names like “Doo-doo Head” and “Butt Face” and “Fat Cunt” then hits her over the head with a frying pan until some of her brains fall out and she makes Precious cook up the brains for breakfast even though it’s clearly not morning anymore.

Precious gets so full from breakfast that there’s no more room in her tummy, and her baby pops out. New baby falls onto the frying pan, but Precious acts fast enough that only half of it is scarred for life. (Baby #1 is sleeping in a drawer, btw, and it only comes out for the welfare people. It’s a Sarah Palin baby. Precious named it Mongo because her favorite movie is Blazing Saddles.)

At this point the Mailman comes over and tells Precious that her rape-happy Pappy is dead from AIDS-appy. He checks her blood and sure enough, she’s got the HIV. That means Precious Prime probably has the HIV too and the babies as well. If the HIV presence in Precious’ household were a Michael Jackson song, that song would totally be “Smooth Criminal”. (Speaking of which, the abuse in Precious’ house represents the intersection where “Beat it” and “Eat it” finally meet. I wish I could take credit for that, but it was right there on the page in Push’s groundbreaking novel.)

But don’t fret! Not everything about Precious’ life is shit. She still has a couple people in her corner telling her she might someday be President or whatever. For instance, when she goes to the hospital for frying-pan injuries, there’s this male nurse played by David Blaine. It turns out he’s really nice and doesn’t rape her! Days like this are what Precious calls “Christmas”. Of course, she falls in love with him, and he rejects her because she’s fat.

But more importantly, after one too many frying pans to the head, Obama finally gives Precious a social servant warrior played by Mariah Carey’s impression of Marisa Tomei. This lady’s job is to get Precious out of Precious Prime’s line of fire for good. To do that, she needs to rassle-up Precious Prime so everyone can have a cry-a-thon.

Fortunately, she’s been around the block and lays a well-worn trap. She calls Precious Prime and tells her that her daughter just won a highly lucrative deal as a BET video model. All they need is Precious Prime’s signed consent. Precious overhears this and gets so nervous about being on BET that she eats a whole bucket of fried chicken, throws up, then uses the throw up as butter-jelly for her side-order of biscuits. Mariah Carey’s impression of Rosie Perez explains that the whole thing is just a lie to entice her mother out of the house, and Precious’ giant heart breaks yet again.

So Precious Prime shows up and everyone cries a lot and we find out that Precious Prime’s abuse stems from jealousy. She lost a good man when Precious’ dad started raping their daughter, you know? “Who’s gonna love me?!” she screams. The caseworker’s like, “I will, mama,” and the two hook-up.

As for Precious? She grabs her two babies and walks into the sunset knowing she brought two lost souls together. She works hard for her GED, and when she gets it, all the HIV in their family cures itself. After that she meets and falls in love with Michael Rapaport. He really loves her and the kids. Everyone’s happy as shit. This could happen to you, poor people. You just gotta find your Rapaport.

Listen, I came here to play the game and make some cash. If you want the real deal, go to PBS. If you want reductive exploitation, come to me. There is, and there always will be, a huge difference between films like Precious and films like Hoop Dreams. I made this flick for white people’s wallets. As far as I know, none of the proceeds from Precious went to charity.

But sometimes accidents happen, and romantic dreams really do come true. Take Gabourey Sidibe. A year ago she was a worthless/anonymous nobody with a great figure. Now she’s up for not one but TWO Academy Award for her work in both Precious and The Blind Side. Amazing. They simply don’t have stories like that in North Korea.

(three stars)

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