Bollywood Society » Hollywood Shuffle: All that you must know about this comedy movie

Hollywood Shuffle: All that you must know about this comedy movie

by Ratan Srivastava
hollywood shuffle

Hollywood Shuffle is a satirical comedy film about racial stereotypes of African Americans in cinema and television that was released in 1987. Bobby Taylor’s ambitions to become a successful actor, as well as the mental and external hurdles he faces, are shown in a series of interlaced vignettes and dreams. Robert Townsend produced, directed, and co-wrote the semi-autobiographical picture, which reflects Townsend’s experiences as a black actor who was informed he wasn’t “black enough” for some roles.

Bobby Taylor (Robert Townsend) is a young black guy who wishes to pursue a career as an actor. Stevie (Craigus R. Johnson), his younger brother, watches him prepare for an audition for a part in Jivetime Jimmy’s Revenge, a film about street gangs so full of cliches that light-skinned black actors who apply are cast as Latino gang members and must speak with comical Spanish accents. Bobby’s grandma (Helen Martin) overhears Bobby’s “jive chat” and expresses her displeasure. His mother (Starletta DuPois) is more encouraging, although Bobby’s grandma advises him to work at the post office if he wants a decent career.

Bobby tells his mother that even if he gets cast in the role, their life would be transformed.

Bobby speaks with Mr Jones (John Witherspoon) just after the audition, which concerns Bobby’s commitment to his employment at Jones’s restaurant, Winky Dinky Dog, since Bobby routinely skips work to attend auditions as well as casting calls. B. B. Sanders (Brad Sanders), a prominent black actor that portrays the archetypal comedic character Batty Boy inside the classic sitcom There’s a Bat in My House, comes in such a limousine. Bobby, ecstatic to encounter a prospective role model, wonders Sanders how and where to tell whether a part is good.

Sanders assures him that if his character does not die, the scene will be a success. According to Sanders, acting isn’t about art; it’s about generating money through sequels, marketing, and other means.

Bobby’s agent calls to tell him that his audition went well and that he received a callback, but that the producers are looking for a “Eddie Murphy-type.” He has a nightmare that night in which the director (Eugene Robert Glazer), writer (Dom Irrera), and casting director (Lisa Mende) pressure him to play Eddie Murphy. Bobby begins to transform into Eddie Murphy himself while waiting in line with a number of Eddie Murphy clones and suddenly wakes up in horror.

Bobby’s restaurant coworkers Donald and Tiny (Keenen Ivory Wayans and Lou D. Washington) inform him the next day that he’ll never make it as an actor, so he leaves Winky Dinky Dog. Later that night, he pays a visit to his uncle Ray (David McKnight), a singer who forewent a shot at glory in order to support his family. Bobby has reservations about pursuing acting, although Ray urges him to pursue his ambitions. Bobby’s performance at his callback impresses the director, writer, and casting director, and that he is cast inside the starring role.

Following his casting, Bobby begins to have attacks of conscience that manifest as daydreams based on what people around him are saying or doing, including one in which white coaches teach black actors how to act “more black,” and another (“Sneaking into the Movies”) in which two young black men gain entry to a theatre without paying as well as review movies which spoof popular games à la At the Movies, which include Amadeus Confronts Salieri, Chicago Jones as well as the Temple of Doom, Dirt, and many others.

When Bobby’s grandma comes, he is partying alongside his girlfriend Lydia (Anne-Marie Johnson) at home. The three of them watch a noir movie, that inspires Bobby to imagine himself as the leading man in his own noir, Death of a Breakdancer. Bobby dreams about the roles he wants to take part in that night, from such a Shakespearean monarch to a black superhero to a black Rambo (“Rambro”). During his final dream, he wins his fifth Academy Award. Bobby begins filming Jivetime Jimmy’s Revenge the next day, with his family there. Bobby leaves because his remorse at playing a clichéd persona eventually overpowers him. Bobby’s part is taken by another cast member who’d already earlier protested hypocritically about just the clichéd movie, however, Bobby, as well as his family, depart the scene with their pride intact.

Bobby is finalising preparations on such a separate set for an on-camera scenario that is going to begin inside the final scene. Bobby finishes Hollywood Shuffle by taping a TV PSA for the US Postal Service, echoing his grandmother’s previous warning.

Also Read: Hollywood Homicide: All you should know about this comedy movie

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