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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
"May the fattest wallet win." "Money makes people do the strangest things."
Positive Role Models
Nisi and Mickey well-intentioned women who are trying to make enough money to open a salon/restaurant. A prim butler disdains the women for their crudeness but comes to love and respect them for their decency and kindness.
Directed by Black actor-filmmaker Robert Townsend, B.A.P.S. casts mostly Black actors, but any positive representation stops there. The film is rife with stereotypes: For starters, "B.A.P." stands for Black American Princess and is a derivative of Jewish American Princess, a sexist reference to White Jewish American women who are high on the socioeconomic scale. Here, the portrait of young Black women as overprivileged, materialistic, and entitled may have been applied affectionately, but a sense of condescension lingers. The film seems to suggest that in exchange for being associated with high society and wealth, Black women won't mind being portrayed as oblivious and entitled -- a dubious assumption. Black characters also appear ignorant: A man who wants to run a limo service hasn't applied for a drivers' license. Two Black women are offered money to impersonate someone but never suspect they are being scammed. Sexism is rife: Women are shown as dependent on the generosity of men. Nisi dreams big but can't fulfill her dream until a White guy dies and leaves his wealth to her.
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Violence & Scariness
An older man swoons from dancing too long and hard. Someone dies. An intruder knocks someone unconscious.
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"F--k," "s--t," "bitch,"" hell," and "ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that B.A.P.S. is a 1997 comedy about two working-class Black women who dream of opening a business and are duped into scamming a wealthy, dying old man in exchange for the seed money. Black people and women may find this exploitive and offensive for depictions of ignorance, stupidity, and numerous derogatory stereotypes, despite the movie's writer and director both being Black (and one female). The characters are rewarded at the end for their decency, but audiences may find that positive note a case of too little too late. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch,"" hell," and "ass." Adults drink alcohol. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Halle Berry gives this her all, but the script doesn't do the talented actor justice. B.A.P.S. offers two crude, loud, ill-mannered, ignorant women who haven't a clue about how the world works and no curiosity to find out. Yes, the women prove to have hearts of gold, but their decency doesn't really make 90 minutes of ridicule any less cringe-inducing. Fran Drescher played clueless and crass in The Beautician and the Beast and Reese Witherspoon did clueless and spoiled in Legally Blonde, so the cliché produces varying degrees of success. But this misses the mark most of the time. When the women mistake a bidet for a second toilet, it takes Nisi a second to mistakenly turn the water on herself, but it takes 34 seconds of incompetence to turn the geyser off. It's okay to be ignorant about bidets, but it isn't okay to be too stupid to turn off a faucet.
Ian Richardson plays the meticulous and well-mannered butler, stereotypically deployed as the foil to the women's garish crudeness. His gradual appreciation of their decency signals to the audience that even snooty White people are capable of recognizing the good character of the heroines. And for a guy expected to die in two weeks, Landau plays Don as spry and energetic, which makes no sense. Nisi seems to hate her "boyfriend" Ali (Pierre Edwards), deriding him mercilessly for being an unambitious dope who wants to start a limo company but hasn't bothered to get a drivers' license. She has no qualms about leaving him and the movie offers no connection between them of any kind. Suddenly she baselessly describes him as the love of her life and, given our view of him, when they reconnect at the story's end, it's hard to see that as a happy ending.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.