HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Hollywood Shuffle Satire On The StereotypicalBuy this film here.
Year: 1987
Director: Robert Townsend
Stars: Robert Townsend, Anne-Marie Johnson, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Helen Martin, John Witherspoon, Lou B. Washington, Brad Sanders, David McKnight, Lisa Mende, Dom Irrera, Eugene Robert Grazer, Rusty Cundieff, Grand L. Bush, Damon Wayans, Franklin Ajaye
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bobby Taylor (Robert Townsend), like a lot of people in Los Angeles, is waiting for his big break, and Hollywood is where he has his heart set on, all he needs is the right role to get him noticed and his acting career can finally take off. As it is, he is currently working at a fast food diner, selling hotdogs to the city's denizens and listening to his co-workers and boss do down his dreams; he even has to make transparent excuses to the boss (John Witherspoon) to get time off work when he has an audition. His hairdresser girlfriend Lydia (Anne-Marie Johnson) is sympathetic, but his grandmother (Helen Martin) might have the best take on the situation: maybe the roles he is going for aren't the best...

Director Robert Townsend and his co-writer and co-star Keenen Ivory Wayans had been in the film and television industry for a while by the time they made Hollywood Shuffle, a "don't get mad, get even" satire on the typical situation for African American actors at the point in the mid-nineteen-eighties when this was made. The story of the film's production almost overshadowed its message, as they scraped together their meagre budget through credit cards and celluloid offcuts of existing projects to shoot on, and while it took them a couple of years to get the thing completed, despite a seventeen-day shooting schedule, the results paid back dividends when it assuredly got them noticed.

The message was simple, but so obvious that it was surprising it took this tiny independent flick to make it plain: black actors in Hollywood were, more often than not, making their wages by playing stereotypes. The industry could kid itself that things had moved on from the days of Stepin Fetchit and Willie Best, stars who had made a small fortune for themselves by pandering to frightened or lazy manservant clich├ęs, but really, this highlighted, was the state of roles available any better now when the most an actor of colour could hope for if they were not Eddie Murphy (a friend of Townsend's, incidentally) were a range of criminals and slaves, or characters who didn't reach the end of the movie?

To emphasise this, here Bobby frequently launches into comical reveries about how he sees his chances and those of his fellow black performers, and these were not merely well-observed, but often laugh out loud funny too. Townsend went on to a consistent career, but one with patchier quality than he might have preferred, yet anyone who saw him in Hollywood Shuffle would have great respect for him and feel warmly to his efforts, so well delineated were his concerns in this. In 2020, it was well noted that at the Oscars all of the acting categories had white actors nominated despite moves to more inclusivity: except for one, Cynthia Erivo, who was playing a slave, making a return to check out Townsend and Wayans' points here all the more vital. Maybe not every joke hit its mark, but the commentary did.

In The School of Black Acting skit, the choices are set out with scathing absurdity: black actors are coached by whites in behaving more "black", all the better to essay those pimps and slaves and jive-talkers. At the audition, the casting directors and writers demand they act like the racial flavour of the month (Murphy) if they want to secure any work. In a Siskel and Ebert spoof, Sneaking in the Movies, a pair of "urban" types review the fare on at the movie theatres to expose the sort of thing that any non-white is served up, utterly unrepresentative of their lives and the only thing they can relate to is a horror called Night of the Living Pimps. If anything, the satire was too keen, too cutting, for the domestic scenes with Bobby and Lydia tended to fade somewhat when you wanted them to make more of the choices in Western media: a private eye parody called Death of a Breakdancer was more compelling, though the role model question, where Bobby is taken to task for wanting to be part of this damaging cycle of stereotypes, remained astute. Though things have moved on, there are far more non-white directors in the West now, for a start, Hollywood Shuffle showed some things remained the same, alas. Music by Patrice Rushen and Udi Harpaz.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 155 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: