Awfully Good: Blankman

Before BLACK PANTHER there was…HANCOCK. And then, I guess, BLADE. But before that there was….

Blankman (1994)

Director: Mike Binder
Stars: Damon Wayans, David Alan Grier, Robin Givens

A nerdy inventor with a predisposal towards premature ejaculation becomes an amateur superhero in an effort to clean up his city.

No matter how great Christopher Nolan's "realistic" take on superhero movies was in the Dark Knight trilogy, if there ever was a real-life vigilante, they would probably look a lot more like BLANKMAN than BATMAN.

BLANKMAN was one in a string Awfully Good black superheroes movies from the 1990s, ranging from METEOR MAN to Shaquille O'Neal's magnum opus STEEL. (I guess SPAWN technically counts too.) All of them follow pretty much the exact same plot—an unlikely hero must rise to save his neighborhood from increasing crime and violence, usually at the hand of some rich white asshole. But dare I say that BLANKMAN is the best. (Sorry, Shaq.)

At least his costume doesn't have nipples.

It's goofy as all hell and regularly stupid, but BLANKMAN also has a lot of heart. Taking obvious cues from the Adam West Batman, down to the colorful onscreen sound effects, the movie is campy but still takes itself somewhat seriously now and then. Think of it as a parody of the superhero genre (decades before this was grossly overdone) that still seems to pride itself on its message of "crime doesn't pay." Admittedly, it's a tough tone to balance. Let me give you an example:

This is the kind of movie where Blankman will give a heartfelt speech about truth and justice… immediately followed by an unnecessarily long scene where the virgin superhero loudly and wildly jizzes in his pants the first time a girl kisses him.

The Russia investigation against President Trump keeps getting weirder and weirder.

Damon Wayans, who co-wrote this with J.F. Lawton, the screenwriter behind both PRETTY WOMAN and CANNIBAL WOMEN IN THE AVOCADO JUNGLE OF DEATH, plays the title hero like a full-length version of one of his In Living Color characters, which isn't a bad thing. (I laughed every time he emitted his lady-like squeal after being hit or slapped.) He manages to play Darryl/Blankman's aloof innocence as good-natured and loveable instead of outright annoying. And not every actor can pull off a line like, "Ugh! You mean I have to see her... thingie?!"

If you're wondering what exactly the title hero's powers are, BLANKMAN is a mix between Batman and a poor man's Inspector Gadget. He's a mild-manner inventor who makes amazing things out of other people's trash—everything from electric nunchucks to rocket rollerblades. He also builds homemade stink bombs collected (unknowingly) from his brother's farts. After accidentally discovering a way to make his clothes bulletproof, Darryl builds a costume out of bed sheets, longjohns and a towel to take to the streets as Blankman. (Obviously, the bad guys immediately realize that they can just shoot him in the face.)

David Blaine's latest trick of urinating through solid glass wasn't his best work.

Superhero support comes from the always dependable David Alan Grier, who plays Blankman's disapproving brother and sometimes sidekick Other Guy, and reporter Robin Givens, whose romance with the childlike BLANKMAN is more confusing than a Terrence Malick movie written by David Lynch. However, it's Seinfeld star Jason Alexander who steals all his scenes as Grier's scummy wheechair-bound boss, a tabloid journalist who listens as Grier opens up about his family's struggles following the death of his grandmother, and simply responds: "How's that lesbian necrophiliac story coming?"

Bet you weren't expecting to see STORM and PROFESSOR X in this movie, were you?

But if I'm being honest, what really makes BLANKMAN memorable is the thing that every truly great movie needs—a worthless robot with a learning disability. Much like Paulie's robot in ROCKY IV or B.O.B in THE BLACK HOLE, Blankman's metal sidekick J-5 continues a long tradition of completely unnecessary but gloriously stupid mechanical characters. Like most of the hero's inventions, J-5 is shoddily built but proves himself a true hero throughout the film, whether it's sniffing out bombs like a dog or hilariously falling down multiple flights of stairs in an effort to rescue his creator. (My favorite though: when Blankman's grandmother dies, J-5 actually goes to the funeral.) And—SPOILER ALERT—when the damn robot sacrifices himself to save everyone from a mass bombing, I defy you not to break down in tears as Blankman screams to the heavens.

And just like that, the world's strangest orgy was about to begin.

Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier have some good lines, but seeing The Chief from Carmen Sandiego throw shade at some guy's junk is clearly the winner.

Some of the goofirst action moments. Also, Blankman messing up his pants. More than once.

Slap me around and call me Susan! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Blankman squeals like a Susan after being hit or slapped
  • Blankman displays a new invention
  • A superhero-related song plays on the soundtrack
  • Blankman can't hear well
  • There's a cameo from an actor or actress you recognize
Double shot if:
  • Blankman busts a little too early.

Thanks to Frank for suggesting this week's movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: You can see Damon Wayans wearing a BLANKMAN hat in LAST ACTION HERO.
Source: JoBlo.com



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