6.5/10
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186 user 57 critic

Bamboozled (2000)

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2:23 | Trailer
A frustrated African-American TV writer proposes a blackface minstrel show in protest, but to his chagrin it becomes a hit.

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1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sloan Hopkins (as Jada Pinkett-Smith)
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Dot
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Verna (as Gillian Iliana Waters)
Susan Batson ...
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Mau Mau: Big Blak Afrika (Julius Hopkins) (as Mos Def)
M.C. Serch ...
Mau Mau: 1 / 16th Blak (as MC Serch)
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Canibus ...
DJ Scratch ...
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Storyline

Dark, biting satire of the television industry, focusing on an Ivy-League educated black writer at a major network. Frustrated that his ideas for a "Cosby Show"-esque take on the black family has been rejected by network brass, he devises an outlandish scheme: reviving the minstrel show. The hook: instead of white actors in black face, the show stars black actors in even blacker face. The show becomes an instant smash, but with the success also come repercussions for all involved. Written by N. Cognito <nobody@noplace>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Starring the great negroe actors

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

20 October 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

It's Showtime  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$190,720 (USA) (6 October 2000)

Gross:

$2,185,266 (USA) (17 November 2000)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alec Baldwin was supposed to appear in the film as himself but did not show up on the day of filming. Lee called Matthew Modine to quickly take Baldwin's place. See more »

Quotes

Pierre Delacroix: As I bled to death, as my very life oozed out of me, all I could think of was something the great Negro James Baldwin had written. "People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become, and they pay for it, very simply, by the lives they lead."
See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers wish to thank ... New York Production Locals ... See more »

Connections

References Ally McBeal (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

One Night
Written by Allen Gordon and Teron Beal
Performed by Profyle
Courtesy of Motown Records
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User Reviews

 
Satire too narrow and too overt.
27 February 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

For the most part, Spike Lee is an angry filmmaker and I cannot blame his anger nor do I criticize it. With films such as Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever, he shows his passion and understanding of situations such as racial feelings between all races, not just whites and blacks as well as how outsiders view interracial relationships. Here, his target is the entertainment industry, specifically television and he cuts right to the core because he knows how important and complex this issue is and wastes no time of this 135-minute film to stuff every frame and scene with a message and relating what he has seen in this country and how he feels about it.

First off, the acting is near flawless. Damon Wayans gives his best performance ever as Pierre Delacroix, a successful producer upset that he is not considered black with his fancy dress and white accent. Determined to make his case, he decides to create a minstrel show very much in the vein of those from the 1930s and 40s. However, he goes one step further and hires black actors to use blackface makeup as well as make the subject and setting the most politically incorrect setups imaginable. What he doesn't expect is the overwhelming popularity of the show complete with huge ratings and numerous critical awards.

For my money, Lee almost had a great film here. The first hour is terrific, biting satire, attacking everything and anything. Lee takes no prisoners and also gives some very interesting bits about how a TV show is brought to life. But, once the show becomes a success and the people involved develop consciences, Lee's vision narrows and soon it becomes more of the angry and socially-aware Spike Lee we've seen in much better films. Being white myself, I never liked how Lee seemed to portray whites as leering fools and the true ignorant people of America as opposed to the "more commonly accepted" view of blacks. Still, his feelings were justified in Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever and earlier works. Bamboozled tries too hard and loses its mission towards the end. The end is in fact a rehash of many other movies seen before, even ones self-consciously referred to here such as Network and The Producers.

Spike Lee is a gifted and fearless director and I cannot say this is a boring or uninspiring film. I was held captive every step of the way. I just wish he had picked a better and more effective way to satirize his subjects, as well as maybe broaden the horizons; only then could it really take root.


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