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Bamboozled (2000)

Cast: Damon Wayans, Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, more...
Director: Spike Lee, Spike Lee
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: New Line Home Video
Running Time: 136 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Writer and director Spike Lee casts his satiric gaze on racism in American television and how America's racist past still impacts the present in this biting comedy. Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) is an astute, Harvard-educated African-American writer working for an independent television network who is assigned to brainstorm a new show for the African-American audience. Delacroix is the only black writer on the network's staff, and the longer he works under Dunwitty (Michael Rapaport), the loudmouthed executive in charge of programming, the more he's convinced he's made a mistake. Wanting to be fired, Delacroix writes a pilot he imagines is so offensive no network would ever dare to air it: "The ManTan Minstrel Show," in which dancer Man Ray (Savion Glover) and comedian Womack (Tommy Davidson) portray two shiftless dunderheads, ManTan and Sleep 'N Eat -- who are to be played in blackface. To Delacroix's surprise, Dunwitty gives the idea the go-ahead, and to his shock, the show is soon a massive hit. Delacroix is now stuck trying to explain his show to the African-American community, who are generally not amused, especially Sloan Hopkins (Jada Pinkett Smith), his assistant on the staff, who has become involved with Man Ray. In order to give Bamboozled a look that would suit its setting in the world of network television, Spike Lee and cinematographer Ellen Kuras shot the entire film using digital video equipment. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Damn good movie by NMalik August 20, 2004 - 6:37 AM PDT
7 out of 10 members found this review helpful
I say "damn good" because thats what it was. It definitely addressed the greatest issue of humanity that most films, if ever try to tackle and float over. No matter what race you are. The question will always be ignored for censorship. Spike Lee addressed racism for what it was in the past and he has definitely hit the spot on showing its existence today in American commercialism. This movie was for justice and all films made in the hope of justice shall be on my top #1 list. The film was very entertaining in the sense that it sparks thought. It's too bad that greenciners have either not rented it or have and given it such a low rating and disappoints me with the whole membership group of this organization. After seeing this I definitely have put The Birth of a Nation (1915-1930) above higher in my queue list. On hopes that more people will view Bamboozled, don't forget to see the Special Feature's -director's review on it. Thanks greenchine.

Proof that Too Much Truth can Make Some Go Through the Roof! by WAkers December 27, 2002 - 1:50 PM PST
16 out of 16 members found this review helpful
Bamboozled is Spike's best film . . . unfortunately, most people disagree with me.

A biting and abrasive and hysterical satire that immediately came under fire due to its highly sensitive subject matter, Bamboozled is an important work that was marginalized by those that didn't get it.

Roger Ebert deemed the use of blackface in the film as Spike's big mistake, citing the highly misunderstood incident of Ted Danson showing up in blackface at a 1993 Friar's Club Roast as proof that blacks and whites alike "don't find blackface funny." WHO SAID THAT SPIKE LEE WAS TRYING TO MAKE BLACKFACE FUNNY? Bamboozled is not a comedy, it's a satire. Satire CAN be humorous, but more often it is much more sorrowful. Spike had no intention of the blackface drawing laughs -- blackface isn't funny.

What should draw laughs, uncomfortable as they may be, are the scenes in which the entire audience shows up in blackface : Asians, Hispanics, Whites, Italians, and Blacks alike all proclaiming how proud they are to be "niggaz." The laughs in Bamboozled often come out of sheer horror at what you're seeing.

From listening to Spike's commentary on this disc, parts that I laughed at I wasn't supposed to be laughing at, and it really made me think:

a.) Why are there no black dramas on TV? All shows featuring predominantly black casts are almost always COMEDIES. (meaning it's okay to show black people on TV as long as we can laugh at them.)

b.) What's the big difference between Minstrel Shows of old and the "bling-bling" song and dance of most of today's rap videos? Not much, IMHO.

c.) Who benefits from a reclaimed word? (In this case, the word "nigger" although the slightly less Klan-member sounding "nigga" is most often used. The same applies to "fag" -- reclaiming a word seems to make the opposition think "If they can say it, so can I.")

Nobody GOT this movie. Half of the reviews I read for it seemed to convey the point that Pierre Delacroix came up with the Minstrel Show idea to keep his job and become famous, when in fact he did it to get fired and to expose the network and its audience for what it was: a racist, bloodthirsty machine that was ok with putting black people on the air as long as they were making fun of themselves.

With a budget of $10 million, Bamboozled was a bomb (grossing under $3 million worldwide, theatrically.) But it's a damn shame. This is an immensely provocative work that should not be missed by anybody, of any color.


GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.58)
159 Votes
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