Bamboozled (2000) - Rotten Tomatoes

Bamboozled (2000)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Bamboozled is too heavy-handed in its satire and comes across as more messy and overwrought than biting.

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Movie Info

Pierre Delacroix is a hip, young, Harvard-educated writer who is the sole person of color working for an upstart network with floundering ratings. Despite several attempts, Delacroix has yet to see any of his concepts go into production. Now his boss, the ratings-hungry, culture-vulture Dunwitty, issues him a searing ultimatum: come up with a hot, trend-setting, headline-making, urban hit or get fired. Feeling doomed, Delacroix decides to present the most outrageous, unbelievable farce of stereotypical comedy he can imagine - hearkening back to the old days of "black-face" minstrels with a variety show featuring Manray, a homeless tap dancer, and his sidekick Womack. Incredibly, Delacroix's spoof turns into a ratings bonanza, a cultural phenomenon that has the media pundits raving and audiences of all types howling.

Cast

Damon Wayans
as Pierre Delacroix
Paul Mooney
as Junebug
Jada Pinkett Smith
as Sloan Hopkins
Susan Batson
as Orchid Dothan
Tyheesha Collins
as Aunt Jemima
Jason Bernard
as Jungle Bunny
Tariq Trotter
as Levi--Musical Director
James 'Kamal' Gray
as Porch Monkey
Christopher Wynkoop
as Massa Charlie
Al Sharpton
as Himself
Don Ezzard Peavy II
as Auditioning Dancer
Tony Arnaud
as Auditioning Digeroo-Doo Player
Tuffy Questell
as Auditioning Singer
David Wain
as Bunning
Ron Lawrence
as Mau Mua's Engineer
Shannon Walker Williams
as Young Black Woman
Matthew Cole Weiss
as Young White Man
Rodney "Bear" Jackson
as Stage Security Guard
Rafael Osorio
as Stage Security Guard
Ed Blunt
as CNS Security Guard
Renton Kirk
as CNS Security Guard
Kim Director
as Starlet
Lisa Ferreira
as Da Bomb Girl
KiKi Haynes
as Da Bomb Girl
Judah Jacobs
as Da Bomb Girl
Light Eyes
as Da Bomb Girl
Chyna
as Da Bomb Girl
Luz Whitney
as Da Bomb Girl
Danny Hoch
as Timmi Hillnigger
Mira Sorvino
as Herself
Yasiin Bey
as Big Black Africa
MC Serch
as 1/16th Black
Gano Grills
as Double Black
Canibus
as Mo Black
DJ Scratch
as Jo Black
Charli Baltimore
as Smooth Black
Jani Blom
as Jukka Laks
Dina Pearlman
as Myrna Goldfarb
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News & Interviews for Bamboozled

Critic Reviews for Bamboozled

All Critics (97) | Top Critics (36)

Spike Lee's sharp, riotous satire, from 2000, zeroes in on the grotesque misrepresentation of blacks in American media-and their underrepresentation in the corporate offices that control it.

Full Review… | October 26, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

This is basically sloppy, all-over-the-map filmmaking with few hints of self-criticism and few genuine laughs.

Full Review… | September 23, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

If Mr. Lee meant to bring back blackface entertainment as a metaphor for the current black performers he finds obnoxious, he has miscalculated.

Full Review… | April 27, 2007
New York Observer
Top Critic

Lee's satire on American TV is an intriguing failure.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

At his best, Spike Lee is too brave to be subtle.

Full Review… | March 19, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

You won't look at race onscreen the same way again.

June 4, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Bamboozled

For this feature, respected writer/director Spike Lee decided to make a satire concerns race in American culture, specifically television, and how racist imagery of the past still has an effect in the present day. The broad idea is a fine one, and this is a topic that should be addressed in a film. The major issue I have with this production is in its execution, and a lot of the choices Spike makes. The story concerns a well to do African American at a tv station who is fed up with his job, and decides to pitch a show idea so offensive, there's no way it will be accepted and air,, and he will be fired. It all backfires on him though, and the resulting fallout has a curious effect on him, the show's cast, other employees, and the viewing audience. The basic concept is nothugn really new, and the film owes a big debt to Network (which it makes great reference to). No, what bugs me is how the story is told. It is shot on video, giving it a documentary feel, which is okay, but it really makes everything look grainy and cheap, and the impact is lessened as a result. Also, to cause controversy, out Protagonist decides to have the program be a minstrel show set in a watermelon patch. I get the idea of satire, and purposely playing up buffonery, but come on, there's no way to incorrectly guess how something like this would be received. It's an out of touch and dated reference point, and sure, the film is probably eye opening for a number of people, but it seems like Lee misjudges how many people aren't already aware of the racial issues he brings up. Becuase it seems like he treats the viewers as totally ignorant, this is one of the most unsubtle, heavy handed, overbearing, and exhaustingly repetitive films out there. It's overlong, and the point gets hammered home really early on, so all the rest is just continual rehashing, and beating the message into people's heads with a sledgehammer. Yes, there are some really great points that are made, and there are some excellent sequences, but this is just way too overblown and tiresome. It's still a fascinating film, and will make you think, but this really needed to be written and edited a lot better. It does feature some really good performances however, even though Wayans and Rapaport do get a tad obnoxious at times. All in all, a noble effort, but a bit too flawed for me to really recommend. It does have a great set up though, so it's a shame that the execution isn't as strong or consistent.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

At this point in Spike Lee's career, it's almost at a point where enough is enough. His heavy handed messages about racism are sometimes very well done and effective, but other times they are bland and as ridiculous as this. The only thing that's really interesting about this is the audience reaction to blackface, that's about it. Everything else presented in this has been done and done better. The really bad comical undertones to the movie only adds to its pointless nature because in the end it all just feels like a bad joke.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

½

Spike Lee delivers an intentionally shocking and racist film that winds up being shockingly racist in unintentional ways. Damon Wayans plays either an erudite and well-spoken television producer, or an erudite and well-spoken muppet, judging by his accent. He works for an exploitive tv network that's not interested in portraying realistic, positive images of african-americans, so he one day decides to create a show so offensive and over-the-top racist that the network executives will be swarmed with public outcry. His plans misfire when his "minstrel show for the new millenium" becomes a mega-hit, inspiring fans all over the country to don blackface call themselves "real" (n-words). Thrown into the mix is Wayan's personal assistant (Jada Pinkett) and her brother Mau Mau, a militant gangsta rapper, whose african pride seems a little misguided, to say the least. The film certainly starts off amusing, and has great intentions, but somewhere along the line, it loses it's point and focus. Jada Pinkett Smith is either a terrible actress or her character is just blandly awful (probably a little bit of both). I can't imagine this blackface minstrel show would ever be a hit series, as it's simply not very funny in any way (and even for a show about blackface, it goes into cheap and lazy territory). There is a fair point one could make about the idiocy of modern television effectively being just an updated version of a minstrel show, but Bamboozled doesn't go anywhere near that territory. By the end of the film (and I don't feel bad in revealing some spoilers), the film delves into wholly unrealistic gunplay and violence. It's incongruous and cheapens whatever valid points it was trying to make. Bamboozled winds up being a whole lot of unoriginal ideas slapped onto an interesting concept. In fact, the ending material sort of justifies the minstrel shows and demonstrates not a rising above that sort of material, but showing black culture as a whole has denegrated itself still further. Go rent the vastly superior C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004) for a truly satirical look at America's attitude towards race.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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