[box cover]

Booty Call: The Bootiest Edition

The cause of a minor scandal upon its initial release when Bill Cosby, the man who has gets a vibrator stuck in his ear in Mother, Jugs and Speed, indignantly objected to its unfettered depiction of carnality, Booty Call (1997) has, thanks to its indelicate title, mostly been remembered as a low-water mark in African American cinema. What people seem to forget, though (if they even bothered to watch it), is that it's actually a pretty funny movie. Now available in a "Bootiest Edition," it's heartening to find that, seven years later, the film hasn't dated as badly as other urban comedies. Aided by a competent, occasionally observant Takashi Bufford and, um, Bootsie, the picture is largely powered by Jamie Foxx, who gives what should've been a star-making performance as the trash-talking hood rat Bunz. Recruited by his pal Rushon (Tommy Davidson) to fly wing on a double-date with his sweetly innocent girlfriend Nikki (Tamala Jones) and her upwardly mobile friend Lysterine (Vivica A. Fox), the film is a send-up of sexual politics in the era of HIV. While that's hardly an original concept (the forgettable Casual Sex? mined the same territory a decade earlier), director Jeff Pollack keeps things moving at a breakneck pace (the film clocks in at a wisely brief 79 minutes), and the performers go at it with an infectious enthusiasm. Moving swiftly from dinner at a Chinese restaurant to the girls' adjoining apartments, the picture wastes little time in pairing the lovers off. But before the guys can claim that booty, they'll be sent all over Chinatown hunting for condoms and, when the lovin' moves down south, plastic wrap. If all of this sounds horrendously familiar and unfunny, know that it's all in the execution, which is surprisingly fresh for such stale material. Lysterine's Jesse Jackson fetish gives Foxx the opportunity to imitate the activist reverend talking dirty (again, it's the execution), while the third-act complication that sends the foursome to the emergency room actually yields some pretty big laughs (though Foxx groping a woman in labor is one of the few moments when the film goes too far). The only borderline offensive moments come courtesy of a duo of Arab bodega clerks, who drop a few homophobic one-liners, but the film is so ruthless toward all races and orientations that it's hard to get too worked up about it. Mostly, the movie is determined to please at all costs, and thanks to the wildly improvising Foxx, it very often does. Also worth noting is Bernie Mac's cameo as a holy-roller minister and Gedde Watanabe as an obnoxious waiter. Columbia TriStar presents Booty Call: The Bootiest Edition in a so-so anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with lively Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include a commentary with Jeff Pollack, Takashi Bufford, and John Morrissey, an alternative ending, a "Smooth Operator" featurette (16 min.) that explores the finer points of booty calls, and theatrical trailers for three films featuring Vivica A. Fox. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks



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