Blankman

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Blankman Movie Poster Image
Nerdy inventor fights crime; cartoonish violence, cursing.
  • PG-13
  • 1994
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

One person can make a difference.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Darryl may be a nerd, but he's creative and inventive and brave. Kevin is more careful, but equally brave when he has to be.

Violence

Cartoonish violence is rampant. People are shot. A man chained to a bank vault dies in an explosion off screen. Campaign workers are shot, but only the gunman is seen. A man is shot in the shoulder with minimal blood and no lasting effects. People are mugged in the subway and on the street. A pimp beats up one of his workers. A fight with another man ensues. Two brothers live across the street from a crack house. Police officers sleep in a squad car while mayhem erupts around them. A woman throws a bottle at someone committing a crime below her window. A pregnant woman gets stuck in an elevator and has to give birth with the help of two good Samaritans.

Sex

A woman kisses a man who has had little sexual experience. He whines, buckles at the knees, and wobbles around for a while in a comic overreaction to the kiss. A woman makes a reference to a criminal having small genitals. While using a homemade walkie-talkie, a man seems to be talking to his genitals. A tabloid news organization goes after a "lesbian necrophiliac" story. References are made to a sperm bank and "S & M." A man describes his first kiss as a "tongue probing my mouth." A TV producer in a wheelchair claims that high ratings "give me a woodie." A woman in labor pain grabs a man's crotch in the belief that she's squeezing his finger. Display of a Rorschach test line drawing of a woman's breasts.

Language

"S--t," "ass," "bitch," "woodie," "nuts," "balls," "testicles," and "scumbags."  References are made to new superheroes "Midgetman" and "Gayman."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two brothers live across the street from a crack house.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blankman is a comedy that mimics the 1960s campy television portrayals of Batman as remembered by two brothers who are now adults and battling crime in their neighborhood. Language includes "s--t" and "bitch." Violence is generally bloodless and played for comedy. Like an episode from the 1960s campy Batman TV series, fights are punctuated by cartoon overtitles saying "blam" and "thud!" A man, a virgin, and woman kiss, but apart from that all sexual references fall into the category of middle-school silliness, citing "balls," "testicles," and the display of a Rorschach test line drawing of a woman's breasts. A woman in labor pain grabs a man's crotch in the belief that she's squeezing his finger.  References are made to new superheroes "Midgetman" and "Gayman."

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What's the story?

BLANKMAN starts with backstory -- how a kid from a tough neighborhood grows up to be the title's vigilante hero. Grandma (Lynne Thigpen) tells big brother Kevin to be nice to his odd younger sibling, and niceness is clearly the guiding principle of the boys' lives. When Darryl (Damon Wayans) and Kevin (David Alan Grier) grow up, they admire their grandma's political activism and are devastated when organized crime boss Minelli (Jon Polito) guns her down to send a message to the progressive candidate she's working for. Dressed in pajamas dipped in a homemade bulletproofing solution and a tube sock mask, Blankman starts rescuing those in need. He storms a bank while a Minelli-led heist is in progress, barely escaping the explosion that kills the city's new mayor (Christopher Lawford). Can Blankman save the day?

Is it any good?

The overriding sentiments in this movie are sweetness and decency, perfectly embodied in lead actors Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier, two towering comic talents who clearly understand drama well. The comedy in Blankman is goofy and juvenile, but the undercurrent reminds us that honoring family is important, that we each owe our community a commitment to make things better, and that even the seemingly oddest and weakest among us can muster the courage to make a difference. These lofty goals, far from ruling out raunchy humor, actually counterbalance places where Wayans, a co-screenwriter, goes out on a limb. We may roll our eyes when the way water drains from a large tank makes it look as if the two men trapped inside are peeing, but the message remains primary, that even the least likely among us have heroics within. Kids may ignore the sexual innuendo, but they'll enjoy the goofiness.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Blankman's theme of one person can making a difference. Do you believe that we can effect change for the good doing small things on our own? What are some ways kids can help their communities?

  • Darryl has an instinct to help people in need. How do you think parents and schools can develop that desire in kids?

  • How does the movie establish that the bad guys are cartoonish? What are some signals that even though they have guns and bombs and knives, they aren't meant to be terribly scary?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love goofy tales

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