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|Index||29 reviews in total|
I've forced this film on all my friends and there isn't one who regrets
seeing it. A couple haven't been that enthusiastic at first; thought it
all right but didn't understand the fuss I make about it, but the next day
they'll want to watch it again.
I find it pretty embarrassing when someone quotes the inevitable Austin Powers, but for months after seeing this film I just couldn't help it - probably the reason I had to get everyone I know to watch it.
Some films have great scenes and some are just good films; this is both. Genuinely funny with real heart.
Say it with me now: WINKY DINKY DOGGG.
This is a great movie. It is absolutely hilarious, and it easily
R. Townshend's best work. In fact, it's far, far better than anything else
he's ever done, which is remarkable considering the film's tiny budget.
The humor is biting and relevant. The movie is highly recommended.
Hollywood Shuffle (1987) was the directorial debut of Actor/ Director
Robert Townshend. His self financed film Hollywood SHUFFLE pokes fun at
the struggles many black actors face whilst looking for an acting
career in Hollywood. It's sad as well because many of these stereotypes
are still true to this day. While progress has been made in the
American Movie Industry, they still need to make more progress. This
film showed people how the Movie making business handles the majority
of young black actors who're trying to make it in the movies.
The story is about a young, talented and aspiring actor who wants to make it in Hollywood as a director. But when he tries out for roles, he meets a lot of stumbling blocks. Many of these are about his racial background (i.e. he's not black enough, he's too black, doesn't act black, etc. etc.). Eventually he's offered a role but will he throw away his dignity to accept it? Can young Robert make it in Hollywood without "selling out"? Will his peer drag him down? To find out you'll just have to watch Hollywood SHUFFLE.
Highly recommended film.
Interesting and impressive, Hollywood Shuffle allows the characters to
the point that Townsend is making, without being too harsh or
The film incorporates some great parody scenes such as the Siskel and
inspired "Speed and Tyrone" where the reviewers sneak into movies.
Most impressive is the background to the film, which makes the finished product all the more impressive. Townsend's freshmen effort is a true success, and goes where few first timers are normally able to go.
Robert Townsend's independent debut is a light-hearted farce that explores
the struggles of black actors of Hollywood. But the issues that the film
could be applied to talented folks in any field who are prevented from
reaching their full potential because of stereotypes.
Many of the cast were unknowns at the time but they did an excellent job in the various skits. My favorite is the parody of Siskel and Ebert's TV show, where two street hoods sneak into the movies to give their own rather unique reviews. Amadeus is slammed by the amateur critics because "the movie's title is too hard to pronounce" while a movie about Zombie Street Pimps is given the thumbs up, because of the attention to detail. This is typical of the kind of humor employed throughout the movie - Townsend takes a racial stereotype and turns it outside out, making us think and laugh out loud at the same time.
I wish more directors, black or not, would follow Townsend's personal, self-effacing approach to movie-making but I guess it's easier to produce yet another violent shoot-em up or special effects showcase. Oh well.
. . . just the idea of having the audacity to finance a major movie using
one's credit cards. And while it's unclear what those card companies
thought of the project, the movie-going public are the recipients.
Robert Townsend, infant terrible of the late 80s makes a splashy, dynamic debut in "Hollywood Shuffle." There's no doubting Townsend's unbridled energy, imagination, and punch. Here's a man who has something to say, and uses comedy, parody and satire to make his points.
How the film will appeal depends on individual tastes. However, Townsend has assembled a good looking cast, which throws itself into the proceedings with enthusiasm and verve.
More power, Mr. Townsend.
As a black man and a longtime movie fan, it angered and frustrated me as to how blacks were stereotyped and exploited in Hollywood over the years. This was especially true during the first half of the 80's when I saw talented actor like Larry Fishburne play a hoodlum in DEATH WISH 2, Wesley Snipe play a hoodlum in WILDCATS and Mario Van Peebles play a hoodlum in EXTERMINATOR 2. Of course they've gone on to bigger, and totally unexpected, better things. That's why this satire hit a nerve with me. The one scene that sticks in my mind are the audition scenes where blacks audition for demeaning roles casted by clueless white producers and directors trying to tell blacks to act the way they think blacks should act (ain't that a blip!) and looking for an "Eddie Murphy type". The script, co-written by Townsend and co-star Keenen Ivory Wayans is accurate and on the money. While Wayans has sone on to better things (IN LIVING COLOR, I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA and SCARY MOVIE), Townsend has not been so fortunate (The uneven THE FIVE HEARTBEATS, The lame TV sit-com THE PARENT 'HOOD and the godawful B.A.P.S.). The film also features Helen Martin, Damon Wayans, Anne-Marie Johnson and John Witherspoon. If you a fan of on-target satires, I strongly recommend this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hollywood Shuffle is one of the best black comedies of all-time. It
served as a big f--- you to Hollywood for its sickening portrayal of
black people. Robert Townsend used comedy for a great purpose(to convey
a truth) and it worked out splendidly.
Premise: Bobby(played by Robert Townsend) has dreams of making it big in Hollywood. He works for a crummy hot dog stand called Rinky-Dinky Dog(no, really) with idiotic co-workers as well as an idiotic boss. The only problem Bobby faces is the negative roles that Follywood tends to offer black people. He soon has to make a decision if he wants to go with the BS roles of the movie industry or to go a different route.
Opinion: This movie hits the nail on the head with the types of roles that Follywood has destined for us to play. Its funny as well as sharp in its delivery. The Black Acting School skit has to be the funniest sketch in the movie. The black detective is the second funniest thing. Sure most people might say that the acting is over-the-top but these actors who play in the types of movies that Hollywood Shuffle parodies are always over the top with their performance so what are you talking about? I respect Hollywood Shuffle for using humor to address a serious subject instead of stooping to the brainless comic dung that you get from these Chittlin Circuit movies that are produced nowadays. And the sad thing is that people are trouncing gems like Hollywood Shuffle while embracing minstrel rubbish like Soul Plane, Norbit, Code Name: The Cleaner, Juwanna Mann etc. A sad state of affairs. In closing I would say support comedies like Hollywood Shuffle any chance you get. They're the only bright light you get in the dark tunnel of comedy in Hollywood.
by Dane Youssef
Movies in general are so formulaic that even most independent films are pretty routine and by-the-numbers.
Maybe that's why "Hollywood Shuffle" feels so refreshing, like a much-needed change of pace. Most indies are made almost entirely by hand---one man writing, directing, producing (hey, they need every single spare cent they can get their grubby hands on) and this one is no exception.
Townsend wears all the indie hats here and he wears them proudly.
This is the film that introduced the world to Robert Townsend. Well, that was it's whole purpose. Like "The Brother McMullen," this star-vehicle was written and directed by Townsend about his dream to make it as a professional actor, trying to break into Hollywood, while at the same time, trying to over-come the cruel limitations mainstream Hollywood has set up for black people who want to act... and actors, in general.
Whereas the '70's was the birth decade of the blaxploitation, so many of them were just cheap, cheesy, corny knock-offs of popular white films. Blaxploitation got more blacks into films, but the films themselves weren't really about anything. "Hollywood Shuffle" is a Blaxploitation film that really has something to say... that has an agenda.
There is so much burning talent, so many struggling entertainers wanting to make something of themselves, that Hollywood can afford to treat the auditioning talent the same way a really strong cleanser treats germs.
Townsend's efforts to make this movie are inspiring--he borrowed every dollar he could, asked for movie footage that was left on the cutting-room floor, called in every favor he could, threw everything he had and more to get this one made.
To tell his story, get his foot in the door... and at the same time, tell a story about what this kind of life is like. For those with talent who dare to dream big.
Greats Keenan Ivory Wayans and John Witherspoon have bit players as people who work at a hog stand in the neighborhood who don't ask for much out of life... and don't get it. They're the kind of cynics who believe, "You're a fool for following your dreams."
When you near the end of your journey in this world, you really fully understand the meaning of the old phrase, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Townsend interlocks a variety of skits with this all-too autobiographical tale, all of which are pretty funny and inspiring. You have to admire the way that Townsend wants to put out some legitimate roles for black actors to play and black actors to idolize. But most of his skits go on too long after the point has been made and there are quite a few moments that feel like someone (Townsend obviously) should have punched up. Townsend is a far better actor than he is a writer/director.
Perhaps because he is only a filmmaker by necessity for this one. He's more interested in using this to make up of all those dream roles he never got to play and showing his chops as an actor than really making a great movie.
There's a scene where he takes-off "Siskel & Ebert"--before everyone started doing it. Almost all the skits (where Townsend is fantasizing his dream roles as an actor) go on way too long, probably because Townsend is far less concerned with how funny the skits/movie is and more interested in using this movie to play all the dream roles he never got to before.
Every actor is perfectly cast, especially Townsend himself. It's great to see him playing all these roles you know he's always dreamed of doing (he plays them while his character actually IS day-dreaming).
The movie captures the struggle of the out-of-work actor just right. We see lines and lines of actors warming-up, rehearsing their roles, going into the audition... all to hear, "Thank you, next!" But some blessed, precious few are picked.
But those that are black are given racially-biased drivel to perform. Ethnic caricatures that shame and set back their race. Brothers and sisters who talk like stock characters from the slave era, wearing redneck farm clothes, picking cotton, eating chicken and getting stinking drunk. Townsend tirades many black archetypes, most of which went out of style around the same time as black-face. Lil' Bobby obviously wants to say something about the way the brothers and sisters are treated in the biz. There are some moments here you'll roar with laughter at, as well as put a lump in your throat and a strange feeling of hope and pride.
Like many other breakthrough films, especially independents, "Hollywood Shuffle" was another arrival of a fresh new talent. It happens as often as the rise and setting of the suns, but here is a film where it feels a little more special because Townsend was really about something. You can see it here, not only in some of his satirist scenes, but some of the quieter moments where real drama in brewing and dreams are at stake.
We see where Townsend is asking himself if he's good enough, if he face the whole world (which is how it is when you're struggling to make it as an entertainer or in life) and when life-long happiness is at stake. It almost hurts. And at the end of it all, when we wonder for Townsend's character, Bobby's sake what will become of him? And then we realize we already know. We just found out.
It's like looking in the sky at the stars like you always do and then there's a brand-new star shining in the night sky, standing out just a little bit bigger than the others. Haven't seen that one before. Hey, is that a new one? Couldn't be, could it? I don't remember there are so many. Another star is born.
--Love (or Like), Dane Youssef
Bobby Taylor wants to be a respected actor, but he has to settle for
stereotypical roles in the white-dominated world of cinema. It is
clear, as he rehearses in the movie's opening scenes, that the role he
is auditioning for is not exactly what he has in mind. When the movie
is actually filmed, it gives the term 'Blaxploitation' a whole new
Bobby lives with his brother Stevie and his grandmother, and he is often told he could work at the post office. He does have a job at Winky Dinky Dog, a hot dog place where Donald and Tiny are his co-workers, though his auditions interfere with his ability to be on the job when needed. The most popular sitcom on TV stars a comical bat/man who isn't exactly Cliff Huxtable.
As Bobby agonizes over this role, he has fantasies about what could happen. The fantasies are the best part of the movie.
In one scene, slaves are escaping, and the one guy who worked in the house makes Stepin Fetchit look like Sidney Poitier. The same actor later turns quite sophisticated in a commercial for Black Acting School, which is taught by white instructors, where aspiring actors only learn stereotypes. Light-skinned blacks need not apply.
In another fantasy, Bobby imagines that, since Siskel and Ebert are white guys who don't know what they are talking about, his people are represented by a couple of brothers in 'Sneakin' In The Movies'. Among the characters lampooned in this fantasy are Amadeus, Indiana Jones and Dirty Harry. And there is a movie about pimps and hookers that is ten times worse than anything real.
Probably the best fantasy of all happens while Bobby and his grandmother are watching 'Sam Ace', a Humphrey Bogart type movie. The film 'Death of a Breakdancer', done in black and white with the film noir style (including jazz music) stars Bobby as a black Sam Ace. While the film shows positive images, stereotypes can still be found--Jerry Curl is one of the suspects and very funny.
Rambo becomes Rambro in another scene.
Should we be enjoying all these offensive portrayals of African-Americans? Of course. Robert Townsend is black, and he produced, directed and co-wrote this movie and did a fine job of acting as well. His purpose was obviously to make fun of stereotypes. And Bobby shows that he has pride, and doesn't have to accept disrespect.
As a white person, I was not bothered by the fact that the majority of white people in this movie are portrayed in an over-the-top manner, especially the people responsible for the movie for which Bobby is auditioning. We're not like that, and I know it.
This movie was made on a budget, but one reason was the use of the same actors in many different roles. For the most part, it doesn't seem low-budget.
One of the better moments in the 'real' world takes place in the barbershop run by Bobby's Uncle Ray. David McKnight does an admirable job in a dramatic scene.
I highly recommend this movie.
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