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Case Number 04005

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B*A*P*S

New Line // 1997 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // March 4th, 2004

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All Rise...

The Charge

Just in case you were wondering, the title is an abbreviation for Black American Princesses. Urge to throw up, rising!

Opening Statement

The worst film of 1997 arrives on DVD at last. Why anyone would even want to own it remains to be seen.

Facts of the Case

Nisi (Halle Berry, Die Another Day, Monster's Ball) and Mickey (Natalie Desselle, Set It Off), two low-class waitresses from a small town in Georgia, are tired of working for mean Mr. Johnson (Bernie Mac, Ocean's Eleven, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle). They learn that the infamous rapper Heavy D is holding auditions in L.A. for a dancing position in a music video and subsequent tour. This may be the answer they were looking for, so off they go to L.A.

While at the audition, the girls are fooled by a slick chauffeur into thinking they have won parts in another music video. Upon arrival at the mansion of dying millionaire Blakemore (Martin Landau, Hollywood Homicide, The Majestic), they learn there is no music video; instead, Blakemore's nephew Isaac wants Nisi to pretend she is the granddaughter of his uncle's former black maid, who was his great love. Is this some sort of scheme on Isaac's part? Will Blakemore be offended or accept the hoochies?

The Evidence

Speaking as someone who has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of movies, I have come to the conclusion that there are some people who should never be allowed to go near a typewriter. Troy Beyer, who wrote B*A*P*S, is one of those people. Not content with stinking up screens with her acting, she took on writing as her next challenge. Her screenplay is nothing more than a collection of stereotypes mixed with obnoxious sentiments. She shows no gift for characterization, as every character in this film is a stereotype. Her sense of plotting is nil, making this the slowest ninety minutes you will ever sit through. The dialogue is so witless that I wonder if she was laughing while at the typewriter.

There is not one redeeming quality in this film. Not one. I've had bowel movements less painful than watching this. Beyer could have really had something here: an intelligent, well-crafted comedy that could promote racial harmony. Instead, she's merely content with reinforcing misconceptions that African-Americans have spent decades trying to correct. Shame on you, Ms. Beyer!

Author's Note: Not content with writing and acting badly, Beyer completed the trifecta by directing Let's Talk About Sex (1998) from her original script. Her latest film, Love Don't Cost A Thing, was a horrible remake of Can't Buy Me Love, which wasn't all that good to begin with. Since it flopped at the box office, I think I can safely say we will not have to worry about another Troy Beyer cinematic travesty.

Anyway, B*A*P*S was directed by Robert Townsend. What was he thinking when he took this assignment? He was previously associated with such good films as Hollywood Shuffle (1987), The Five Heartbeats (1991), and The Meteor Man (1993). Those films tried hard to transcend stereotypes typically attributed to African-Americans. This makes it even more baffling as to why Townsend took on a script that drenches itself in the very things he tried to overcome. Maybe he needed the money, or something to do during the hiatus of his then-hit show The Parent 'Hood. To his credit, Townsend does try to transcend Beyer's horrible script. Unfortunately, that would be a Herculean task for a director of major stature, never mind one of Townsend's stature.

Let's talk about acting. Halle Berry is awful as Nisi. She has been quoted as being glad she did this film. I'm glad she's happy with B*A*P*S, because I have yet to meet one person who actually likes this film. Her performance is tacky and phoned-in. Natalie Desselle makes her film debut as Mickey. It is a performance so bad that I wonder if her parents wore paper bags over their heads after seeing it. Mickey is shrill, irritating and cloying. But then again, it's not as if Beyer provided her with any material that would help create a great performance. Martin Landau, an Academy Award winner for Ed Wood, is a very good actor. That he agreed to appear in B*A*P*S left many scratching their heads, including yours truly. Landau actually creates a character here, which only serves to emphasize the poor acting of his fellow cast members. He continued his slump with an appearance in Ready to Rumble. My advice to Mr. Landau: Fire your agent now. You deserve better. British character actor Ian Richardson is also wasted as Landau's butler. Perhaps he sensed that B*A*P*S was nothing more than junk, but at least offered a paycheck. The things some will do for money.

New Line presents the film in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a pan-and-scan version. Both transfers look unbelievably bad. The colors are all far too subdued, even by today's standards. Grain is present throughout this feature. Don't even get me started on edge enhancement. Several times, the traditional signs of age are present, such as scratches and specks (which shouldn't be present in a film that's only seven years old.) It's pretty bad, yet it's still better than the film deserves. (A blank screen would be the ideal presentation.)

Audio is offered in surround stereo, either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0. Both tracks sound better than expected, although there are points in which the sound is mixed far too loudly, with the score often overwhelming the dialogue. Then again, considering this is a Troy Beyer script, that is a good thing.

The only extras are the film's original theatrical trailer (did it ever make me want to see this again!) and trailers for three other New Line releases, including the equally awful Woo. (No, it's not a documentary about Nature Boy Ric Flair.) Honesty forces me to admit that I was actually happy this was a barebones release. God knows I didn't want to sit through any self-congratulatory material.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Is there anything good I can say about B*A*P*S? Well…hold on a minute. I'm trying to think of something…

Nope, my mind's a blank!

Closing Statement

Are you kidding me? I can't recommend this garbage. Not even my mortal enemies deserve to suffer this much.

New Line is out of its collective mind expecting anyone to plunk down $19.99 for B*A*P*S. All I'll say to them is: Enjoy your profits from Lord of the Rings, because no one is going to buy B*A*P*S. Unless they're inebriated. Extremely inebriated.

The Verdict

Guilty! Get the hell out of my courtroom before I throw the book at you!

Troy Beyer is ordered never to set foot toward anything remotely related to filmmaking, under my new "Three Strikes" rule.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 79
Audio: 90
Extras: 2
Acting: 0
Story: 0
Judgment: 9

Perp Profile

Studio: New Line
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Bad
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb








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