Newest Reviews
Perfect 10
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Traitor, The
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Three Outlaw Samurai
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
Truth, The
Good Die Young, The
Old Guard, The
Newest Articles
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes 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 457 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: