Thursday, July 12, 2007
OH my goodness. Sometimes you see a movie that is so bad, it's good.
This is the case with 1985's Rappin', starring Mario Van Peebles and featuring a pre-ER Eriq LaSalle and a pre-A Different World Kadeem Hardison, and even an uncredited Ice-T (isn't that reason enough to put this in your Netflix queue?). Now, this may be a cult favorite for all I know, but I managed to miss it the first time around (But I did see Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo!). It must have some street cred, as it features the Force MD's performing "Itchin' for a Scratch", and Claudja Barry performing "Born to Love".
Anyway, how did I come to watch this little chestnut? Well, a few weeks ago, I went to see Spamalot with some good friends. Reading the playbill, I noticed that the understudy for "The Lady of the Lake" was Lyn Philistine, someone I'd worked with briefly in San Antonio back in 1998 (that's a whole 'nother story, believe me!). I didn't get a chance to find Lyn, as Spamalot was in its final days in Houston.
Anyway, this sparked my curiosity to see if this lovely and talented songbird had been involved in other productions over the years. Gotta love Google!. I saw that she was credited with a non-speaking role in Rappin', simply listed as "girl". Naturally, I had to get the movie.
Well, Lyn looked as cute as ever as a (I'm guessing) 12-year-old in the few minutes of film she got, but the experience of watching the rest of the movie was, well, hilarious. This movie has some elements that were 80's staples: A reformed street hoodlum (Van Peebles, imaginatively cast as -- I'm not kidding -- John Hood), dance-offs, urban kids using music (rap in this case) to combat societal ills and stick it to The Man, and a record contract in the balance. The actual raps, even for 1985, were so corny that they had to be written by 40+ year old white guys (You haven't lived until you've heard "Snack Attack", where Van Peeble's gang taunts their overweight comrade -- possible inspiration for the Fat Boys?). The acting is pretty horrible, as one might expect, but works as unintentional self-parody in these later years. The script doesn't qualify this as a "blaxploitation" flick, but it does have the similar "story of the ghetto written by someone who's never seen one" feel. Hood's gang rival, Duane (if that ain't a gangsta name, I dont' know what is), gets to say "Two's company, three's a crowd" AND "Hey? Hay is for horses" within seconds of each other during a very tense club scene... and it just keeps getting better.
My recommendation? Get some friends together and do your own version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It's worth it. Spoiler alert: The coolest (only?) car in the movie other than cop cars is a Chrysler LeBaron.