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How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass
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Reviews & Ratings for
Baadasssss! More at IMDbPro »How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass (original title)

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23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A must-see for anyone interested in film-making or screen writing

8/10
Author: anhedonia from Planet Earth
16 September 2004

It's a real shame that mediocre indie films, such as "Open Water" and "Napoleon Dynamite," get tons of publicity while a gem like "Baadasssss!" goes unnoticed.

Director and co-writer Mario Van Peebles affectionately, but truthfully, chronicles a fictional telling of his father, Melvin Van Peebles' attempt to make "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," modern black cinema's groundbreaking film, which was compulsory viewing for the Black Panthers and paved the way for countless black actors, filmmakers and film technicians. The Spike Lees, Ernest Dickersons, John Singletons and Wayanses owe a huge debt of gratitude to not only what Melvin accomplished 33 years ago, but also how he did it.

Mario Van Peebles' previous directorial efforts, "New Jack City" (1991), "Posse" (1993) and "Panther" (1995), showed potential, but were mired in clichés and turned out to be rather forgettable. That's not the case with "Baadasssss!"

This is an exciting, funny and moving film about one man's zeal to make the movie he wants to make. Melvin did not want to kowtow to studios and was fed up with how blacks were portrayed in Hollywood movies. So he set out to make a movie where the black man fought back, then went on the run and got away. And he did it with an ethnically diverse crew (which was unheard of then), many of whom knew little or nothing about movie-making.

"Baadasssss!" brilliantly illustrates Melvin's struggles, including pretending he was shooting a black porno film to hide his real intent from the crafts unions, running out of money, losing his vision in one eye and finding a distributor for "Sweet Sweetback."

Mario shows a deep sense of love and respect for his father's achievement. But Mario definitely doesn't sugarcoat his depiction of Melvin. The Melvin we see in this film is a driven, obsessive man who loves his friends and family deeply, but won't let anything or anyone stop his film, including the weekend jailing of his crew. Mario's reluctance about being forced to be in a "sex scene" in his dad's movie is one of the film's highlights. The moment works thanks to a nicely subdued and thoughtful performance by Khleo Thomas as the young Mario.

Mario Van Peebles and Dennis Haggerty penned a smart, energetic script. They add a nice undercurrent to the story by creating a father-son dynamic, which adds a layer of surprising depth to the story. Mario Van Peebles so completely immerses himself into the role of his father that we forget we're watching Mario play Melvin.

Where the script falters is in its over-reliance on voice-over narration used to to convey Melvin's thoughts. It works sometimes. But it also seems obtrusive. For instance, Melvin's thoughts about the contents of the props drawer aren't needed because we're smart enough to know how dangerous or funny it could have all turned out.

"Baadasssss!" is as much about Melvin's passion to make his influential film as it is about the importance of maintaining one's integrity. Just as Melvin didn't compromise his story, Mario, too, apparently held out and refused to compromise. Producers wanted him to make the film more acceptable to "a white audience" or toss in some hip-hop. But Mario didn't relent and made the film he wanted to make.

The paradox about this film about the making of a film is that while Mario's movie is technically and cinematic ally superior to Melvin's seminal film, "Baadasssss!" ultimately isn't as politically, socially or historically influential as the film it chronicles. Nevertheless, for anyone interested in movie-making, "Baadasssss!" is a must, along with the documentaries, "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" (1991) and "Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography" (1992). "Baadasssss!" is one of the best and most enjoyable films ever made about film-making.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Mario Van Peebles pay a stunning tribute to his father's landmark film,and does him one better in the one of the best indy films I've seen this year

Author: raysond from Chapel Hill, North Carolina
4 August 2004

This is now just being shown in select theaters across the country and I got the chance to see this film just the other night,and it is a welcome sigh of relief from the outcome of summer rubbish that is clogging the nearby multiplexes. But with "Baadasssss!",co-writer and director Mario Van Peebles has offered a stunning tribute to his father,Melvin Van Peebles,whose groundbreaking 1971 classic film became one of the highest-grossing independent films of that year,and also opened the floodgates for a string of blaxploitation movies to come throughout the decade of the 1970's. The film is also a case of cinematic one-upsmanship in which Mario Van Peebles,himself,plays his father Melvin,warts and all,during the course of the older man's production of his greatest claim to fame,the cult sensation independent film of 1971,"Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song",which was in fact a film that didn't get much hearsay when it first came out,but by word of mouth became the surprise hit of that year since the 1971 film was "X" rated by an all-white jury for some outlandish content and shocking scenes.

For those individuals who have never seen this blaxploitation classic,or who have managed to see it in its entirely in the video store or in college film courses or during midnight screenings on college campuses(where it is shown during Black History Month)or most recently during Black Film Festivals where panel discussions are formed regarding this landmark cinematic piece of African-American film-making. The picture "Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song",stars Melvin Van Peebles himself as a bordello stud performer in Los Angeles who gets arrested and beaten by racist White cops,kills two of them,and manages to escape(the movie concluded with Van Peebles running endlessly over hill and dale)while he stays on the lam,while the chants throughout blasts out: "You killed my momma!","You killed my poppa!","You killed my brother!", "You killed my sister!"......."But you won't killed me!"............. The picture was very low budget making it grainy and hallucinogenic in the fashion of that era and it featured a throbbing,Greek chorus style accompaniment from an unknown band at the time...Earth,Wind,and Fire who would go on to become one of the most successful funk/R&B bands of the 1970's. "Sweetback" is credited with being the first film to have a black man taking charge of his own production and his own financing of the film and his own representations through his own independent film company,which was a bold and prosperous move at the time. "Sweetback" introduce to the world black street language and attitudes plus it wa also a winner to celebrate a lawless hero who stood up to the wrongful doings of the Man and came up a bonafide winner.

In "Baadassss!",Mario Van Peebles re-creates from start to finish the making of "Sweetback" and the convulsive life around the production. Now in his mid-forties,he plays his father at roughly the same age,and following his father,he wrote the screenplay for the movie(with Dennis Haggerty),co-produced,and directed it. He has not just stepped into his father's shoes,but captured every stanza and every body movement and it works very well here. The story of this famous tale of Melvin Van Peebles goes this way:in 1970,after directing the controversial successful comedical satire "Watermelon Man",starring Godfrey Cambridge,Van Peebles(who had a three-picture deal with Columbia Pictures at the time)turning his back on the glad-handing executives at Columbia,and the way Hollywood portrayed blacks on film,was thinking of explaining his vision to his agents whom turned him down so instead to make this film he had to be manipulative and devious enough to pull off the impossible,and he did. As far as the story goes,he did a lot of hustling to get this film made whatever the odds were against him which was a phenomenal amount of accomplishments he had to face to get this off the ground and running. Melvin passes the film off as a black "porn-movie" and shoots a scene to further that impression,but he had to enlists the help of a lot of people including a white stoner,a black porn producer,a reclusive gangbanger,and other social undesirables which includes a Bob Evans-style producer that turns out to be a gay-shooter too(and that is played by Adam West....yes,that Adam West. That's right boys and girls....Batman himself)not to mention using his own kids for this project as well. The movie captures some of the desperation and the easy pleasures of the period which turns out to be an exhausting,pleasurable,great piece of entertainment for a great summer escapism. However,"Baadassss!" is a celebration of sorts,which in turn reminds us that the political fervor that animated the films of Melvin Van Peebles and his contemporaries has largely disappeared from the American scene which there are notable exceptions such as Micheal Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11",and Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing". In an era where black entertainers are producing too many borderline minstrel entertainment like "Barbershop","White Chicks","Soul Plane",Mario Van Peebles' "Baadassss!" is a welcome call to arms,and its a grand honor to represent one of the great pioneers of Black Cimema. But it is also a mystery to this day for the son of Melvin Van Peebles,Mario whose greatest achievement as a film director,the 1991 crime-drama,"New Jack City",and the 1992 all-black western "Posse",and as an B-listed actor doesn't get the ultimate respect he greatly deserves. Let's hope he gets some respect here with this stunning tribute.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Sweet

Author: BlackFilm from United States
11 March 2005

I can't begin to say how great this film is, and how much it meant to me. I'm not a big fan of some of Mario Van Peebles' work, so to me, this is by far his best job, acting and directing. He captured the power and the struggle of fighting for a dream/vision, and he made the audience take the journey with him. In fact, this film renewed by interest in the original "Sweetback ..." and made me appreciate the original film to a much greater degree. I saw this film on it's opening weekend, and I pre-ordered it as soon as I found out it was coming to DVD.

Essentially, Mario plays Melvin (his father) while he was creating the independent film classic, 'Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song'. We watch as Van Peebles struggles with family, "the man" and his own personal demons to complete a film that, by all industry models, should not have been made. It was black, sexual, political, and there was barely enough money to get it off the ground. But Van Peebles was a bad mother{watch your mouth}, and he was determined to make it anyway.

If you are a filmmaker, put this film in your "must see" list. If you are struggling to build a business, follow a path less traveled, or go for any dream that seems almost out of reach, this film is also a must see for you. And, if you just want to see the power of passion, and see what a person can do on too little budget with too little time when all he has to make up for the deficit is his heart, see this film! (That last comment was about Mario, but it is also apropos for Melvin, the subject of this film).

There is nudity and strong language in the film. I mention that because I wouldn't want to send anyone to a film that might offend them without forewarning. That said, see this film!

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A Son's love for his Father

Author: Andy (film-critic) from Bookseller of the Blue Ridge
26 September 2004

Ever wonder what it would be like to make your own film without a studio to support you and no money in the bank to fund it. Well, thankfully Mario Van Peebles' father forged ahead in the 70s with a dream and passion like no other. While Hollywood was content with making pictures that negatively depicted African Americans, Melvin Van Peebles decided to break this cultural norm and change the face of cinema.

With no budget, money from friends and drug dealers, and a non-union crew, Melvin created the impossible. He grabbed a hold of an idea and let nothing get in the way from accomplishing it. Melvin had a dream of making an African American the center of the film, one that took no sass from anyone and criticized the modern white Government. While big studios backed away from this project, Melvin jumped forward made Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. There were trial and tribulations to get it done, but thanks to a very surprising source the film became a success. It was the first independent film to become the number one film in America.

Similar to the passion seen in Melvin's eyes when he is making his low-budget film, Mario portrays that exact same involvement when making this low-budget film. What I loved about this film is that there is so much raw, unbridled emotion behind Mario's eyes that you can tell that he 1) loves his Dad and 2) wanted to show America the truth behind this innovator's life. This is Mario's past, and he superbly reenacts it on screen. He carries this film, showing us the many facets of his father. He shows the angry American, the independent talent, the powerful leader, and even the emotional parent. Through all of this Mario continues to keep this film focused and interesting. We cannot keep our eyes off his portrayal of his father. I would not be surprised if he is nominated for an Oscar this year.

Finally, this is a very powerful film that speaks about a side of Hollywood that is less known. It shows how the boundaries of racism can be broken with imagination and persistence. It shows that 'all men are created equal' and that if you have a dream you should pursue it. If you are in the process of making your own film and need a movie that will inspire and motivate, this would be the film to watch. From the moment I put this film in my DVD player, I was glued. What a powerful story coupled with interesting actors (Adam West and Sally Struthers) and told with a very realistic voice.

I highly recommend this film.

Grade: **** out of *****

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Van Peebles Gained my Respect

9/10
Author: stefanie-10 from United States
17 January 2005

I had been putting off seeing this, and then was pleasantly surprised.

I didn't know much about Mario Van Peebles, nor of his father ("Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song" came out 2 years before I was born) but after seeing this homage to Mr. Van Peebles and seeing how much he risked - everything from finances to his family and his own health, for his dream of "the world" to really see life from the African American point of view, the way it really is, is well impressive to say the least.

The unimaginable struggle, the pressure and the sheer will that Mario portrays in his father is a touching tribute. Mario reveals his father's motives for making "Sweetback" in a moving and heartfelt way, documenting how Hollywood portrayed races other than white - if you are not white, then you are the white man's servant - how at that time - no one and no other film had film portrayed a Black Man as a hero or the struggles that he or any other race faces. It is a tale that is bigger than him and despite the risk and struggle, he fights to tell it. This is a fitting homage to a pioneer of a Genre and a Father.

"Baadasssss!" It also depicts the rugged world of guerrilla film-making and the rabid fight involved in making an indie film from inception to distribution. After seeing this I take a much greater heed of the Van Peebles Name, "Baadasssss!" is worthy film as a Drama in its own right, an Homage to a Pioneer and Father and as a Documenty Tribute to a Piece of Film History.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Greatest movie ever made about the movie business

10/10
Author: Zach Saltz from Eugene, Oregon
2 January 2005

"Baadasssss!" beats out Truffaut's "Day For Night" as the greatest movie ever made about the movie business. What Mario Van Peebles does here is nothing short of extraordinary: he manages to inform the viewer about independent film-making while also incorporating an enthralling portrayal of a man obsessed by his unique version of the American dream.

Like "Adaptation", the film is a dizzying array of comedy, satire, family drama, and a little bit of Freudian psychology. Van Peebles, casting himself as his father, obviously doesn't glorify the production, but tells the story of the making of "Sweetback" in a low-key and understandable manner. He doesn't make his father a hero or a villain but rather a man pushed to his limits. The backstage antics are sometimes funny, but more often are simply incredible to believe. Van Peebles' daring use of "American Splendor"-like documentary transitions are also wonderfully effective.

It must be said that I have not seen "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" and it's hard to fathom that this film would actually be better upon after viewing it (I'm not suggesting that I won't look for the film next time I'm at the video store). Like its subject, "Baadasssss!" is a revolutionary film, and should not be limited to film buffs or fans of Mario Van Peebles; this is a movie any casual film-goer would thoroughly enjoy.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Almost great, but not quite (***)

7/10
Author: Jason Alley (samurai1978@aol.com) from Sacramento
4 July 2004

Aw, damn. We can't make fun of Mario Van Peebles anymore. Always something of a laughing stock (despite a few good contributions, like a good performance in "Ali" and directing "New Jack City"), Mario Van Peebles has made himself instantly much cooler by making this fun and suitably chaotic film, which chronicles the making of his father Melvin's landmark film "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song".

I've never seen that film, but from what I understand it's not exactly great, but was revolutionary for existing at all. It's about a black man "taking it to the man" and actually getting away with it, which was unheard of at the time.

Mario plays his own father, and "Baadasssss!" certainly doesn't candy-coat it. Melvin was essentially a good man, but could be incredibly cold and mean, and to his own family, and the film shows that. It also takes us back to the notorious scene in "Sweetback" where Melvin used his own 13 year-old son in the scene where the the titular character loses his virginity. This scene was difficult and uncomfortable for everyone involved, EXCEPT Melvin, which is telling.

The movie is swiftly paced and stylish, but I couldn't help feeling that it could be a little better. It feels a little messy and disorganized at times. Still, good stuff.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Portait of the Father as a Driven Artist

Author: noralee from Queens, NY
14 June 2004

There have been many movies, usually bittersweet comedies, about movie-making with the director as the put-upon ringmaster of eccentrics, like Truffaut's "Day for Night" or "Living in Oblivion," or bio-pics that show the director as eccentric visionary, like "Ed Wood" or "Matinee."

But I think "Baadasssss!" is one of very few to show the filmmaker as a driven artist, more comparable to the intense look at a ground-breaking creator like "Pollock."

Writer/director/producer Mario Van Peebles eerily reenacts how his father Melvin wrote/directed/produced the seminal "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song," one of the first indie movies that also virtually created the potent blaxpoitation genre and guerrilla moviemaking; I thought I had seen it back in '71, but as soon as this film started I realized my memory was, embarrassingly, confusing it with Robert Downey Sr.'s "Putney Swope," so now I do need to see the original.

The production design, including costumes and hair styles, exquisitely recreates the era, but the editing and cinematography suck us even further into Melvin's head as he incisively surveys the state of the image of blacks in movies up to that time and story boards his response.

Melvin's obsession to create and complete the film according to his vision and on his terms threatens his health and his personal and business relationships, but we are caught up in his whirlwind and root for him no matter how ruthless and prickly he becomes as the odds get ever longer and more frustrating and he refuses to compromise, taking offense at lame, well-meaning suggestions, for example, that he might get further if he would at least smile. But he everywhere, rightly or overly sensitively, only sees racism and condescension, including when he has to part layers of irony to beg Bill Cosby for help.

Recalling the spirit of Werner Herzog's documentary "My Best Fiend" about his tortured collaboration with Klaus Kinski to portray obsessives in "Fitzcarraldo" and "Aguirre: The Wrath of God," Mario adds layers of Freudian issues as this filial tribute unflinchingly includes the father's treatment of the son on set and off in the original film and unsparingly brings to life everyone around them.

Mario effectively borrows other bio-pic techniques, such as the camera-facing interviewees in "Reds," first by their portrayers, then, next to the closing credits, the real people, concluding with a loving portrait of his father.

Contrary to the original film, which boosted the careers of the fledging Earth, Wind, and Fire, the soundtrack instrumentation here is surprisingly traditional and sentimental.

The Portrait of the Artist can rarely be a Portrait of a Nice Guy and "Baadasssss!" beautifully and honestly shows why.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

baaaaddddddaaaaassss

Author: skyhowl
8 May 2005

Man this one was awesome,the movie just blew me away!As a black man and a movie buff i always knew about melvin van peebles and his great contribution, not just to ethnic filmmakers but to all entertainment as a whole.This man was 1 of the pioneer who truly changed entertainment as we know it.Filmmakers of less talent and courage get credit and attention while a man of true importance gets ignored.This was one of the most inspirational movies i have ever seen(view from the top was another)if you have a dream,i don't care what it is, this movie will make you want to push to the max to achieve it!great movie check it french

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This movie moves black audiences and should move all audiences

10/10
Author: tksneffect from United States
19 August 2005

I thought this movie really gave an insight to the black struggle in film and that Melvin and Mario are a credit to the film industry. Not only were they pioneers in the industry of indie film making, but they exuded that indelible American Spirit that you see faked out in so many other films. This film is real!!!! I also liked the persistence that came with it, this should inspire anyone with a vision or a dream to at all cost follow that dream and follow through to the very end, for the rewards are more than you can possibly imagine if you succeed in your goals. This is what great film making is all about, I implore anyone and everyone to see this movie!!!

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