Bamboozled

  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Provocative Spike Lee movie for older teens.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

Some gun violence, characters shot.

Sex

Sexual references and situations.

Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Malt liquor, smoking, drug references.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has strong language and violence. Characters are shot and killed. There is some social drinking, and one character abuses alcohol. There are sexual references, and the movie makes some telling points about sexist assumptions about a woman's use of sex to advance her career.

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What's the story?

In BAMBOOZLED, uptight black television network exec Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) has adjusted his ideas so severely that even he isn't sure what he thinks about the compromises he's made working in the white world. When his boss, Mr. Dunwitty (Michael Rapaport) tells him to develop a new show that will boost the station's ratings, Delacroix sets out to create a program so offensive that he will be fired. With the help of his dedicated assistant, Sloan (Jada Pinkett Smith), he creates a minstrel show performed by black people in blackface, set in a watermelon patch, with every possible stereotype from Topsy to Aunt Jemima to a native in a leopard skin loincloth. The show is a huge hit. All across America, white and black fans put on blackface and happily yell out, "I'm a nigger!" The show's stars, former street performers, are thrilled to be rich and famous, but increasingly haunted by their TV roles. Inspired to create their own TV show, a black militant group kidnaps the star of Delacroix's show, with tragic results.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Spike Lee's movie is ambitious, provocative, complex, thoughtful, and just about review-proof. Anyone who doesn't like it could be accused of not getting it. Anyone who does like it could be accused of liking it for the wrong reasons and not getting it, either. This movie has some of the most striking images ever put on film. The minstrel show stars peer into mirrors to put on exaggerated red lips. A tear slips down a blackened cheek. Montages of minstrel images from old movies and racist toys and collectibles are devastating.

Lee's movie raises dozens of important questions about the roles that both blacks and whites play in perpetuating racist stereotypes. Lee suggests that the current UPN and WB sitcoms featuring black characters may be the modern-day equivalent of a minstrel show. The movie is uneven. Dialogue has never been Lee's strong point. But each scene has depth, integrity, intelligence -- and anger -- that is a welcome antidote to the usual formulaic Hollywood product. It is a profound and stimulating film that is designed to create debate and discussion, and certain to raise many different thoughts and emotions amongst viewers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this country's history of racism and the difficulty of bridging the gulf it has created.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 6, 2000
DVD release date:April 17, 2001
Cast:Damon Wayans, Jada Pinkett Smith, Paul Mooney
Director:Spike Lee
Studio:New Line
Genre:Comedy
Run time:135 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language and some violence

This review of Bamboozled was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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