Bamboozled (2000)

BAMBOOZLED, not BEDAZZLED, so don't BECONFUSED, is Spike Lee's latest 
Big Statement, a drab-looking and nearly entirely laugh-less satire 
that takes a page from THE PRODUCERS, when a frustrated black televis-
ion writer (Damon Wayans), tired of rejection for racially intelligent 
scripts, conceives the most stereotype-stocked program possible: a  
gen-u-ine minstrel show, complete with watermelon patch and burnt-cork 
blackface.  And, as in the aforementioned Mel Brooks film, the inten-
tional offender becomes an instant hit.  [ Insert clip of Zero Mostel 
lamenting to Gene Wilder: "Where I go right?" ]  The problem is that 
the show's success occurs in the *middle* of the movie and not at or 
near the end.  So, the slack-jawed shtick is repeated, over and over, 
to unfunny (and, to some, likely unpleasant) effect.  Worse, it re-
sults in a subsequent hour's-worth of reactions from the half-dozen, 
uniformly dull characters, beginning with (boring) speeches and wrap-
ping with (rap) violence.  Sigh.  For chuckles, Lee's film is practic-
ally DOA, 'cept for a pair of inspired TV commercial parodies.  Plus 
five funny minutes of a black comedian's nightclub act.  (The latter 
adding a sorely needed kick to the film's clown-costumed pants.)  And  
if all *that* wasn't a bitter-enough pill, Lee stacks the deck even 
*further* with some of the shabbiest, drab-iest, and ugliest-looking 
photography of his career.  We're talkin' shots looking shot through a 
pair of sweaty gym shorts...  He also has star slash narrator Wayans 
speak in a silly, over-enunciated, "white person" accent, effectively 
rendering *him* grating from the get-go.  (Not to mention establishing 
him as a caricature instead of a character.)  There's even a odd lack 
of historical detail.  Lee tosses out a tidbit or two, sure, but oth-
erwise presumes that we both know the history of minstrel and are al-
ready offended by their depiction.  Early, he hints at a coming and 
perhaps comprehensive overview of African-American screen stereotypes.  
Doesn't happen.  Instead, Lee wraps with an extended, heart-sinking 
montage of early 20th Century "Negro footage."  Yeah, it's a big bag 
of downers, but the clips really belong at or near the *beginning* of 
the film.  You know, where they might be more useful.  True story:  A 
certain someone fell asleep in this one, in the first hour, only to be 
awakened... someone *else's* snoring!  Guess that rates as "two eye-
lids down," eh?  (Rated "R"/135 min.)

Grade: D

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: To Be Tricked or Deceived

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros