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Bamboozled
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: Dr. Drew
Bamboozled order
Director:
Spike Lee

Actors:
Damon Wayans
Jada Pinkett Smith
Savion Glover

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
I hate to wax philosophical but in terms of the grand scheme of things, what’s the real point of the film industry? Besides paying the multi-million dollar salaries of uppity movie stars, most people would probably answer that Hollywood exists simply to entertain people. Director Spike Lee has a made a career and a name for himself by doing just that but stands out from other filmmakers in that he seeks to educate moviegoers with his projects as well. Shedding light on America’s racism and prejudices, his latest work gets a Platinum Series DVD release that’s got a nasty commentary track and an excess of deleted scenes.

As a black writer (Wayans) struggles within a television station run mostly by whites, he comes up with a new TV pilot idea which would push the boundaries of acceptable viewing by exaggerating black stereotypes and satirizing America’s racial biases. His show, “Mantan: The New Millenium Minstrel Show” puts two talented black street performers in the spotlight and eventually becomes a huge success, much to the chagrin of the show’s creator.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I enjoyed about 75% of this movie, which for that portion, provided a scathing glimpse into the racial politics which fuel big name TV stations. It’s bitter, wickedly poignant and certainly doesn’t pull any punches, but as a whole succumbs to its own daring ingenuity. It tries to cover too much ground in its over 2 hours of running time and because of this lack of rhythm, tends to move along very slowly during certain key scenes. It’s kind of hard to put my finger on it because some scenes had my full attention while others dragged on and on, putting a damper on the overall pacing of the movie. In spite of its faults, the movie does succeed in opening up the viewers’ eyes to the racial divisions which to this day, continue to haunt America. Spike Lee doesn’t exactly rely on subtlety to get his point across, opting instead for “the sledgehammer over the head” approach.

Regardless of color, blacks and whites are equally slammed for their collective ignorance and stupidity in this film. Lee makes a special point of going after the hip hop culture and the lifestyles they endorse. Look for the imitation Tommy Hilfiger and malt liquor ads which as a social commentary are absolutely hilarious. Wayans and Pinkett deliver decent roles but Tommy Davidson and Savion Glover deserve special mentions for their touching and emotional performances as two men forced to put on black face-paint to entertain entertainment-starved audiences. It was also nice to see hip hop stars Mos Def and The Roots, who despite being musicians, put in some convincing cameos. My biggest beef with the movie was its last 20 minutes or so, which suddenly opted for the Quentin Tarantino school of filmmaking, seeming somewhat out of place and inappropriate. As a whole, Bamboozled is definitely worth a rental and despite its flaws and pacing problems, does a solid job of conveying its message.
THE EXTRAS
First up in the added features is a 53-minute comprehensive documentary on the making of Bamboozled. While most DVDs include your standard run of the mill 10-minute candy coated crap-a-thons, this one is the real deal, including interviews with everyone involved in the movie. We get exclusive access to behind the scenes footage and can watch Spike Lee in action as he directs certain key scenes and interacts with the actors. There’s also a solid portion devoted to how much work actually went into designing the Mantan set and costumes. It’s easily one of the better documentary featurettes I’ve seen in some time.

Next up is 19 deleted and extended scenes which were cut from the final version of the movie. Most of the selections are kind of short, barely running a minute in time but pretty worthwhile nonetheless. I was pretty stoked to see that within this section were alternate versions and takes of the Timmi Hillnigger and Da Bomb commercials which are definitely worth checking out for comedic value. “Animated Art Gallery” is a quickie 2 and a half minute look at all the promotional posters created for the release of the movie. Set to the soundtrack from the movie, it’s a nice little extra which also presents posters from the Mantan variety show. Music videos for fictional hip hop collective the Mau Mau’s “Blak Iz Blak” and real life crooner Gerald Levert’s “Dream with No Love” as well as the theatrical trailer finish up the extras. While the main menu isn’t animated, it does feature the film's soundtrack in the background.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
As I mentioned earlier, the movie is not without problems but I think its underlying message and biting satirical expose on American culture easily make it a worthy rental. The DVD also features some very worthwhile extras including a great commentary track and kick ass documentary. If you’re looking for an unconventional blend of razor sharp writing, comedy and drama, Bamboozled will definitely fit the bill. Check it out.
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