HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Why Don't You Just Die!
Cranes are Flying, The
That Most Important Thing: Love
Man on the Run
First Love
Countess from Hong Kong, A
Storm Boy
Storm Boy
Frozen II
White Sheik, The
Whalebone Box, The
Hunt, The
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Bacurau
Battling Butler
Vivarium
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Hit!
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Syncopation
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
   
 
Newest Articles
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
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
   
 
  Hollywood Shuffle Satire On The Stereotypical
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: ComedyBuy from Amazon
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 350 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
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: