B.A.P.S. (1997)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Screwball Comedy, Urban Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 28, 1997 (USA)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Robert Townsend's B.A.P.S. earned some of its universal disdain because critics refused to believe that walking exaggerations like Nisi (Halle Berry) and Mickey (Natalie Desselle) might actually exist in the real world. With their gold teeth, peacock hair weaves, mindless chattering, and transparent materialism, one can appreciate why the director might be criticized for propagating offensive stereotypes. But the authenticity of the character type is irrelevant, because he might have gotten away with it had he and novice screenwriter Troy Beyer done anything intelligent with the girls, beyond losing their accoutrements as they evolve from opportunistic to enlightened. But Townsend violates his informal license to skewer members of his own race by failing to provide any counterbalancing justification, such as genuine laughs or insight. Instead, the jokes just lie there, as uncomfortable for the actors as for the audience. By making B.A.P.S. into a formulaic fish-out-of-water Cinderella story, rather than an obvious parody like Keenen Ivory Wayans' I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! (in which Townsend appeared), the director comes across as negligent rather than daring. One expects so much more from the talent behind Hollywood Shuffle. That this movie could have been advertised as co-starring "Oscar-winner Martin Landau" is the only true howler B.A.P.S. can claim. He and Berry should have fired their agents.