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Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look: 3.33%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 10%

1 review, 24 user ratings

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by Carina Hoskisson

"Not worth your 50 cents at the used VHS counter"
1 stars

You’re desperate for a review of the seminal comedy B*A*P*S* and I’m here to provide that service for you. Be thankful, I actually bought the movie from my local video store so that you would never have to watch it.

Nisi (Berry) and Mickey (Deselle) are Hotlanta waitresses in a greasy spoon run by Bernie Mac. Bernie Mac you say? That means this movie might be funny! Oh no, the Mac has about 27.9 seconds of screen time yielding zero laughs. Nisi reads about a talent contest to be Heavy-D’s back-up dancer. “Heavy D?” You might say. I would answer, “Yes.” I thought he was over by 1992 as well, but here he is in 1997 couched as a huge star. Someone for whom you would travel cross country just to get a shot at being his backup dancer. Which is, not surprisingly, exactly what Nisi and Mickey decide to do. But not before putting their ducks in a row.

Lining up those ducks includes buying plenty of PVC outfits, quitting their jobs, and getting their hair did. Nisi does hair. Mickey is a cook (because she’s fat.) Hopefully by winning the backup dancer contest Nisi and Mickey will earn enough money to open a combination restaurant hair salon. When Nisi’s boyfriend rightfully points out that this is a stupid idea, she dumps the ambitionless loser.
Even though they are waitresses, Nisi and Mickey come up with enough money to buy airline tickets with no advance notice. They are off to La-La land. The ‘funny’ part of the flight is that Mickey and Nisi have been so enthusiastic with getting their hair did, that said hair towers about 2-3 feet over the seatbacks. I’ve seen some ridiculous hairstyles on airplanes in my time (white chick with the waist length cornrows I’m looking your direction) but Mickey’s takes the cake. Think of a peacock and add the phrase “Boo-Yah” in gold letters across the back. Somehow this is supposed to be funny. Instead it makes me want to pull out my back issues of Vogue and weep softly in anguish—just like cornrow girl.

The girls head straight from the airport to the try out contest. A cute Hispanic limo driver (Luigi Amodeo) watches them challenging the other dancers in line by percolatin’. The girls lose both contests. However, the limo driver is so impressed by the dancing he introduces his boss, a tall strawberry-blonde man named Isaac (Jonathon Fried) to Nisi and Mickey. The boss is so charmed by the girls he offers them a ride in his limo, a stay at a Beverly Hills mansion and $10,000 for performing a service. The girls jump aboard—never once considering exactly what the service might be.
Turns out Isaac needs a black girl to pretend she’s the daughter of a long lost servant to his billionaire grandfather, Mr. Blakemore (Martin Landau.) Nisi agrees, before asking why. Mr. Blakemore is dying and the only woman he ever loved was the former servant. His family did not approve because the servant was black, so they parted ways. If Nisi can pretend to be the woman’s granddaughter this would ease an old man’s conscience before he dies.

Surprise, surprise, the girls move into the mansion and shake it up! Mickey is in the kitchen cooking soul food and Nisi is charming the old man with tales of her (fake) grandmother. Both engage in hijinks and hilarity, much to the dismay of straight-laced English butler Manley (Ian Richardson.) For a minute I thought, the butler is English? Wouldn’t it have been funnier if the butler hailed from Buenos Aires, or someplace equally unexpected? Then I realized that B*A*P*S* isn’t going for ‘funny,’ its trying to pass off stereotypes at every level as humor—a device more tired than Michael Jackson child molestation jokes.

Subplots tool around like mosquitoes during the movie—annoying, small, and you’re never quite sure where they went or if they’ll be back. A requisite villain sub-plot involves the scheming grandson Isaac. The villain needs to be white, and the white people all need to learn lessons. A romance seemingly develops between Mickey and the Hispanic limo driver (I’m not sure why, he’s clearly gay.) The driver and Isaac attempt to rob the old man and blame it on the two girls. There is police intervention and legal intervention (unfortunately no audience intervention, you still have another 20 minutes to sit through.)

Through all the subplots one thing kept occurred to me: could they have gotten someone whiter than Halle Berry to play Nisi? Only if they had cast Reese Witherspoon. For those of you keeping score, Berry can’t even play a black girl convincingly. Her co-star Natalie Desselle is surprisingly sweet as the flat character Mickey. Poor Martin Landau just wanders around looking lost. The rest of the characters are generic stereotypes played by entirely forgettable actors.

Which begs the question, exactly who is this movie for? B*A*P*S* is a forerunner in the ‘black character shows white people what’s fresh and so clean clean’ category, but the film hardly appeals to any group. I suppose that the audience was intended to be African Americans. However, African Americans are likely to be insulted by the caricatures. White people are likely to be confused and insulted by the caricatures. Hispanics might wonder why the gay limo driver is dating the fat girl.

Director Robert Townshend has enough pull to pepper B*A*P*S* with a cameo by nearly every mid level black star in Hollywood. What Townshend does not have is a grasp on the helm of this movie. On one hand this is a broad physical comedy. The next minute it’s a social faux pas tale. A melodramatic end of life picture, a crime caper, a Cinderella story, a morality lesson, and a culture clash movie –this picture has more personalities than Sybil.

By the end Nisi and Mickey reunite with the boyfriends from back home. Then they dance in the living room of the mansion while spotlights highlight their slow moves. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh, they’re lit by spotlights.” Not quite, there’s an actual spotlight that is turned on from inside the living room. If you’re going to ask me why Martin Landau would keep a real spotlight in his living room, I honestly don’t know. Maybe he wanted to kill ants indoors on cloudy days with a magnifying glass. The ending is just as stereotypical as you should expect from the rest of the movie.

Probably the greatest failing of B*A*P*S* is a complete breakdown in the type of movie it wants to be. I’m all for genre busting movies, but this is a total disaster that ends up trying to stuff all the different flavors into one smoothie. As anyone knows, too many flavors and textures just turn smoothies (and movies) into gray, vaguely chunky messes.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=304&reviewer=44
originally posted: 12/17/03 19:22:59
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User Comments

9/25/05 terratiale funny, light-hearted movie, what a break from the murder and mayhem that graces movies now 5 stars
4/29/05 Jimmy James holy jesus 1 stars
10/04/04 aleisha robinson i think this movie was very funny 5 stars
2/27/04 Kyle Can Oscars be recalled? 1 stars
3/14/03 What?! Halle sucks! 1 stars
11/28/02 Charles Tatum Berry has the luckiest career on Earth 1 stars
11/01/01 krystal sanders ilove this move 2 stars
8/31/01 Butterbean Robert Townsend is a corny motherfucker and Halle odviously needed the money. needed 1 stars
3/08/01 Big Black Bob Shit Halle is a fine lookin' ho!! But this movie sucks!! 2 stars
8/16/00 Elvisfan Apparently this was not meant for the cinema snobs...i like this movie, esp. Halle 4 stars
12/24/99 Obi Wan Yuk!!! The money for this flik should have been donated to Cancer Society for better cause! 1 stars
11/04/99 Mickey "Father Death" MacJohnstmyster Basically the same "Sista's" you could see making a fool of themselves for free on Ricki . 1 stars
4/17/99 jimmy jam It's a black thing you wouldn't understand. Fuckin funny movie 5 stars
3/08/99 Beepy Belonged on the WB but had the occasional funny moment. 2 stars
3/06/99 tab i agree, it did totally suck sheep ass. 1 stars
12/22/98 Binky Sincerely awful. 1 stars
12/15/98 Scion of Graveheart That movie made me barf like hell. Does anyone have a hurl bag? 1 stars
11/06/98 Lord Of The Dunce What was Martin Landau thinking? 1 stars
9/16/98 cheryl_ann i was forced to watch this movie. it made me cry. 1 stars
9/05/98 Kid Pee-Pee I'm ashamed to have seen this film. 1 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Black African Princess'S - stay tuned on the WB for more whacky, zany, hilarity. 1 stars
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  28-Mar-1997 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Jan-2004


  02-Feb-1998 (M)

Directed by
  Robert Townsend

Written by
  Troy Beyer

  Halle Berry
  Martin Landau
  Ian Richardson
  Natalie Deselle
  Troy Beyer
  Luigi Amodeo

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