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  Blankman Have A Go Hero
Year: 1994
Director: Mike Binder
Stars: Damon Wayans, David Alan Grier, Robin Givens, Christopher Lawford, Lynne Thigpen, Jon Polito, Nick Corello, Jason Alexander, Harris Peet, Joseph Vassallo, Michael Wayans, Damon Wayans Jr, John Moschitta Jr, Greg Kinnear, Tony Cox, Arsenio Hall
Genre: Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: When brothers Darryl (Damon Wayans) and Kevin (David Alan Grier) were kids, their favourite television show was Batman, which they took incredibly seriously to the point of inspiration. However, their television reception was none too great, and the young Darryl was quite the inventor when he devised various ways to improve the picture, though his schemes were often less than realistic, no matter that he did get his TV to work better. Now, some years later, they still live together with their grandmother (Lynne Thigpen) in the same house, but some things seem different, not least the rising crime that Darryl, who remains an aspiring inventor, has some ideas how to solve...

The spoof superhero genre took another tumble with Blankman which flopped in the summer of 1994, especially in the face of one of the other stars of popular sketch show In Living Color, Jim Carrey's cinematic breakthrough Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Most of the complaints rested on the jokes, which were either not funny enough or were pitched older than the age group it seemed to be aimed at, the kids who, were this the nineteen-sixties or seventies, would be wrapped up in that Batman series. Although the writers on that were not above slipping in a number of gags for the grownups, they never ended an episode with Batman enduring a crippling orgasm, which was the capper for this.

But after it apparently sank without trace, there was a small cult following that emerged who claimed this was underrated, possibly because they had aged into the correct state of mind to find it amusing. It may have been juvenile in some aspects, but Blankman had a good heart that sought to tackle the issues of inner city crime in a manner not unlike the Blaxploitation flicks of Damon Wayans' youth (he was the co-writer here, as well as concocting the premise), though these were by no means laboured and it didn't exactly have its finger on the pulse of current affairs. That said, it was sincere in pointing out that a lot of ordinary citizens were concerned about how powerless they felt in the face of the crime rate.

Not to mention corruption in public life, though the mayor Grandma campaigns for, Marvin Harris (Christopher Lawford), is a genuinely improving and optimistic public servant, so naturally he falls victim to organised crime which stops him in his tracks. This leaves the door open for a people's champion, and Darryl's big idea is to take on the persona of Blankman (not his choice of moniker, but he likes it), who uses various gadgets in Batman style to save lives and combat evildoers. Easier said than done, as it turns out when the fact that he doesn't really have any superpowers results in him being at something of a disadvantage, though his truly useful creation, a wash that renders clothing bulletproof, should by all rights contribute more to his endeavours than it does (basically, he still gets slapped around).

But God loves a trier, and the film invited us to, if not love Darryl, then respect his schemes to make the world a better place. Kevin works as a journalist on a joke of a news outlet, a real make it all up tabloid, which brings him to meet Kimberly Jonz (Robin Givens), who is a television news reporter of a far more respectable stripe, and the main humour with her arose when she is far more attracted to Darryl than the ostensibly more "normal" Kevin. This was where the unfortunate effect she had on the hero entered the plot, and in truth some of this was a shade weird for a comedy that wasn't quite family friendly, but not exactly strictly for the adults either, as just with the Caped Crusader there were murders here that sparked the protagonists into action, and it did walk an interesting line between jokes about bodily functions (sexual and otherwise) and a more sincere exhibition of geeing the audience up to take more care of their community, particularly in the urban areas. For all that awkwardness, Blankman's zest was frequently laugh out loud funny, though there were quieter patches and it didn't quite make enough of its premise. Music by Miles Goodman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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