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Bamboozled (2000)

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

Director:

Spike Lee

Writer:

Spike Lee
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Damon Wayans ... Pierre Delacroix
Savion Glover ... Manray / Mantan
Jada Pinkett Smith ... Sloan Hopkins (as Jada Pinkett-Smith)
Tommy Davidson ... Womack / Sleep'n Eat
Michael Rapaport ... Thomas Dunwitty
Thomas Jefferson Byrd ... Honeycutt
Paul Mooney ... Junebug
Sarah Jones ... Dot
Gillian White ... Verna (as Gillian Iliana Waters)
Susan Batson ... Orchid Dothan
Yasiin Bey ... Mau Mau: Big Blak Afrika (Julius Hopkins) (as Mos Def)
M.C. Serch M.C. Serch ... Mau Mau: 1 / 16th Blak (as MC Serch)
Gano Grills ... Mau Mau: Double Blak
Canibus Canibus ... Mau Mau: Mo Blak
DJ Scratch DJ Scratch ... Mau Mau: Jo Blak
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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 have been rejected by network brass, he devises an outlandish scheme: reviving the minstrel show. This is 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 October 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bamboozled See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$190,720, 8 October 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,185,266, 19 November 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "Alabama Porchmonkeys", the band that plays on "Mantan's New Millennium Minstrel Show" is played by The Roots, a hip-hop band from Philadelphia. See more »

Quotes

Honeycutt: Uh... well, you know. I do all sorts of things, man. Whatever you need me to do. You know, like, I even do Shakespeare and shit.
Pierre Delacroix: Well do some Shakespeare.
Honeycutt: To be or not to be? That's the motherfuckin' question!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References Kenan & Kel (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Dream With No Love
Written by Gerald Levert and Andy Gibson
Performed by Gerald Levert
Courtesy of Elektra Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Satire too narrow and too overt.
27 February 2010 | by bobsgrockSee 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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