7.3/10
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Baadasssss! (2003)

How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass (original title)
Trailer
2:15 | Trailer
Mario Van Peebles' half-documentary/half-homage to his father Melvin Van Peebles' movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971).

Director:

Mario Van Peebles

Writers:

Melvin Van Peebles (book), Mario Van Peebles (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mario Van Peebles ... Melvin Van Peebles
Joy Bryant ... Priscilla
T.K. Carter ... Bill Cosby
Terry Crews ... Big T
Ossie Davis ... Granddad
David Alan Grier ... Clyde Houston
Nia Long ... Sandra
Paul Rodriguez ... Jose Garcia
Saul Rubinek ... Howard 'Howie' Kaufman
Vincent Schiavelli ... Jerry
Khleo Thomas ... Mario
Rainn Wilson ... Bill Harris
Karimah Westbrook ... Ginnie
Len Lesser ... Manny & Mort Goldberg
Sally Struthers ... Roz
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Storyline

Melvin Van Peebles stunned the world for the first time, with his debut feature, The Story of a Three Day Pass. Filmed in France and selected as the French entry in the San Francisco Film Festival, Melvin's film was awarded the top prize. Saying it was controversial would be an understatement. In 1968 for a black man to walk up to the podium and accept the top festival award for a film he had to go abroad to make--now that's how you make your mark. After his comedy, Watermelon Man, Melvin was determined to push the Hollywood boundaries with the groundbreaking, and even more controversial, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Turned down by every major studio including Columbia, where he had a three-picture deal, Melvin was forced to basically self-finance. Risking everything he had Melvin delivered to the world the first Black Ghetto hero on the big screen--whether they were ready or not! More than 30 years later, history is being fashioned again in the telling of this very tale. Mario ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A father. A son. A revolution.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language and some strong sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 March 2005 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Badass See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$45,331, 30 May 2004

Gross USA:

$365,727

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$365,727
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Troy Garity appears uncredited as the singer Donovan. See more »

Goofs

When the world premiere sells out at the end, Van Peebles walks down the aisle and the audience on his right are cheering the movie and their arms disappear in the aisle. See more »

Quotes

Melvin Van Peebles: Is this something negative, Priscilla? Because if it's negative, I can't even deal with it right now. I'm a broke, pissed off nigger from Chicago, and I'm down to my last cigar.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Real-life participants of the production of "Sweet Sweetback's..." give testimony during the closing credits, including Earth, Wind & Fire founding member Maurice White, who confirmed the "bounced check" story. Melvin Van Peebles himself appears onscreen when the credits finish. See more »

Connections

References Shaft (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Damn All the Fallacies
Performed by Tree Adams
New Dog Old Trix Publishing
Written by (c) Adam Hirsh
Courtesy of Treehouse Music Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Portait of the Father as a Driven Artist
14 June 2004 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

There have been many movies, usually bittersweet comedies, about movie-making with the director as the put-upon ringmaster of eccentrics, like Truffaut's "Day for Night" or "Living in Oblivion," or bio-pics that show the director as eccentric visionary, like "Ed Wood" or "Matinee."

But I think "Baadasssss!" is one of very few to show the filmmaker as a driven artist, more comparable to the intense look at a ground-breaking creator like "Pollock."

Writer/director/producer Mario Van Peebles eerily reenacts how his father Melvin wrote/directed/produced the seminal "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song," one of the first indie movies that also virtually created the potent blaxpoitation genre and guerrilla moviemaking; I thought I had seen it back in '71, but as soon as this film started I realized my memory was, embarrassingly, confusing it with Robert Downey Sr.'s "Putney Swope," so now I do need to see the original.

The production design, including costumes and hair styles, exquisitely recreates the era, but the editing and cinematography suck us even further into Melvin's head as he incisively surveys the state of the image of blacks in movies up to that time and story boards his response.

Melvin's obsession to create and complete the film according to his vision and on his terms threatens his health and his personal and business relationships, but we are caught up in his whirlwind and root for him no matter how ruthless and prickly he becomes as the odds get ever longer and more frustrating and he refuses to compromise, taking offense at lame, well-meaning suggestions, for example, that he might get further if he would at least smile. But he everywhere, rightly or overly sensitively, only sees racism and condescension, including when he has to part layers of irony to beg Bill Cosby for help.

Recalling the spirit of Werner Herzog's documentary "My Best Fiend" about his tortured collaboration with Klaus Kinski to portray obsessives in "Fitzcarraldo" and "Aguirre: The Wrath of God," Mario adds layers of Freudian issues as this filial tribute unflinchingly includes the father's treatment of the son on set and off in the original film and unsparingly brings to life everyone around them.

Mario effectively borrows other bio-pic techniques, such as the camera-facing interviewees in "Reds," first by their portrayers, then, next to the closing credits, the real people, concluding with a loving portrait of his father.

Contrary to the original film, which boosted the careers of the fledging Earth, Wind, and Fire, the soundtrack instrumentation here is surprisingly traditional and sentimental.

The Portrait of the Artist can rarely be a Portrait of a Nice Guy and "Baadasssss!" beautifully and honestly shows why.


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