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The Making of 'Bamboozled' (2001)

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Spike Lee's satirical take on the American entertainment industry, in which a black writer for a TV network, frustrated at his failure to get his ... See full summary »

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Clyde Taylor
Jack Newfield
Judy Aley
Victor Kempster
Samuel D. Pollard ...
(as Sam Pollard)
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A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Spike Lee's satirical take on the American entertainment industry, in which a black writer for a TV network, frustrated at his failure to get his ideas for a respectable comedy about a black family accepted, presents an idea for a blackface minstrel show, only to have his plan backfire. Includes interviews with director Lee and the rest of the cast and crew, who give their insights into the efforts that went into bringing this film to life. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

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17 April 2001 (USA)  »

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This documentary is featured on the New Line Platinum Series DVD for Bamboozled (2000). See more »

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Starts as just talking heads but turns out to be quite interesting
26 December 2003 | by See all my reviews

In 1999 Spike Lee set out to make the film Bamboozled, dealing with perceived racism towards black faces on television. This documentary looks back on the making of this film with contributes from cast, crew and critics on a film that received a very mixed critical and commercial reception and caused controversy on it's release.

For the first ten minutes of this film I assumed that this would be a 15-minute `documentary' that just had the cast praising each other and for part of the film I was right. There is not really a bad word to say about the film and indeed the film opens with a critic calling it Spike greatest film (which, I assure you, it is not). Towards the end, the press coverage is shown and it is fair with both good and bad headlines, but as for the cast they only have good things to say about each other.

Despite this, the film still works very well by being interesting - the cast talk about their feelings of the subject matter, Lee describes his casting, the decision to shoot in DV and it's advantages are looked at, even the set design has time spent on it. There are no major revelations but the discussions are interesting and it gradually becomes more than just talking heads praising each other. Of course it could have gone deeper and I wish it had. While the cast and crew discuss the research and what they feel about blackface as an idea, none of them are made to say how they took the challenges of the movie. When I saw the film I got the impression that everyone who contributed to the continuation of this blackface concept, studios, executives, performers and audiences - and it is for this reason that I felt some of the cast got off easy.

While Spike Lee has pretty much avoiding making films that could be attacked by Bamboozled, his cast have not - Wayans, Smith and Davidson have all done comic roles take trade on the sort of exaggeration that the film attacks. Wayans and Davidson in particular are prone to plenty of ebonics and mugging when they are required to (have you seen Booty Call!?), not to mention the crime that is called Woo! While this can be excused by saying that they take the only work that is available (like Davidson's character - he has to eat!) but I wondered if making this film and dealing with the issues everyday would make a difference to their live from then on. Would they be turning down the sitcoms and the `urban' comedies from now on? And if not how can they expect the film to make a difference to audiences over two hours if it didn't make a difference to them over the shoot of months?

Despite it being as much a promotional tool as a documentary, this film is still interesting even if it errs more to the side of praise than the side of probing. It starts slowly with talking heads but it goes through enough areas of the film to be interesting.


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