Written and Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans
Starring Keenen Ivory Wayans, Bernie Casey, Ja’net DuBois, Damon Wayans, Dawnn Lewis, Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes, Kadeem Hardison
- Theatrical trailer
Released by: MGM Home Entertainment.
My Advice: Watch It On Cable.
During the 80s, a scourge was running rampant through the black ghetto. Was it crack cocaine? Was it AIDS? No, it was gold chains, the fashion accessory of despair and death. This is only one of the criminal enterprises run by the mysterious and powerful Mr. Big (John Vernon). And his latest victim is June Bug (Bobby Mardis), a small time hood and big time loser who O.G’ed (over gold). June Bug ran up some big debts to support his habit, so Mr. Big sends two rather inept thugs come to collect from June Bug’s mama and his young widow Cheryl (Lewis). And it seems that the only thing that can clear June Bug’s debts is Mr. Big getting Cheryl’s sweet booty. But June Bug’s brother, Jack Spade (Ivory Wayans), is back from the Army and he’s looking for payback. So he goes to the legendary black hero John Slade (Casey) to join him on his crusade. With his own score to settle with Mr. Big and Jack needing a lot of help, John gets his crew for some old school ass-whuppin’. As they prepare for the big battle, you can hear their battle cry, “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!”
If you want to see where the Wayans entertainment juggernaut had its beginnings, this is it. This movie is in the same vein as Blazing Saddles and the Scary Movie series, what has been called “machine gun comedy.” You fire a thousand comedy bullets, and a lot will miss but enough should hopefully hit the target to be a success. Since this is a primarily a spoof of blaxploitation films, there are a lot of jokes on black culture from the aforementioned gold chains to so-called black militants to where the hero’s theme music comes from. I’m not sure if it’s the movie itself or the time that has passed since its release, but it doesn’t seem to pack the punch it should. It lacks the edge it could have. I think it was written so a white audience could relate to it and the comedy was made a bit more “vanilla” (no pun intended). Also, points in the movie try to be something besides funny. In a movie like this, though, the jokes can never stop. Otherwise, momentum is lost and the film has to work harder to get it back again.
Writer/director/actor Keenen Ivory Wayans must have been excited by his first big movie since he acts skittish and manic. And taking the lead role, especially when you’re directing for the first time as well, is just not a good idea. His bland giddiness gets a little old, especially when compared to the calm experience of Bernie Casey. That can be said for the whole cast where Damon Wayans and Kadeem Hardison are overselling the gangsta-thug role while Jim Brown and Isaac Hayes exude cool confidence. It seems that the older actors could bring more substance into their minimal roles while the younger actors, wither do to lack of experience or lack or talent, can’t stand out. Since they have the larger roles, this makes it even worse.
Except for the trailer, there are no extra features, which is a shame. I would like to have heard from a Wayans or two (or five) about their memories of their first big project. But no, we get nothing. The film’s not even in anamorphic widescreen. So I would wait and catch this on cable.