Monday, December 16, 2013

The Monkey Hu$tle (1976)

There’s an interesting and offbeat blaxploitation movie buried somewhere inside The Monkey Hu$tle, but the film’s meritorious elements are suffocated by an incoherent script and half-assed postproduction. For fans of actor Yaphet Kotto, the movie is worth a look because he gives a charming performance as a flim-flam man with funky jargon and a natty wardrobe; Kotto even seems like a credible romantic lead in his too-brief scenes with underused costar Rosalnd Cash. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t primarily about Kotto’s character—instead, The Monkey Hu$tle has about five different characters jockeying for pole position, just like the movie has about five different storylines competing for attention. As a result, the picture is a discombobulated mess, a problem made worse by lazy scoring that features the same enervated funk jams over and over again. Set in Chicago, the movie begins with Daddy Foxx (Kotto), a con man who enlists local youths as accomplices/apprentices. Daddy Foxx’s newest aide is Baby ’D (Kirk Calloway), much to the chagrin of the boy’s older brother, Win (Randy Brooks), a musician who’s had troubles with the law. Each of these three characters has a romantic partner, and the movie also presents Goldie (Rudy Rae Moore), a hustler who’s alternately Daddy Foxx’s friend and rival, plus other subplots including the threat to a black neighborhood posed by impending construction of a freeway. Amid all of this, the single thread that receives the most screen time, inexplicably, relates to Win securing a set of drums. Although The Monkey Hu$tle is so shapeless that it feels like the movie’s still just getting started by the time it’s over, some of the acting is fairly good and the production values are excellent; as a travelogue depicting inner-city Chicago circa the mid-’70s, the movie has value. However, the realism of the settings is undercut whenever the ridiculous Moore comes onscreen, with his atrocious acting and his costumes that seem like leftovers from a Commodores show. Had producer/director Arthur Marks built a solid film around Kotto’s endearing characterization, he might have had something. Instead, The Monkey Hu$tle merely contains glimmers of a legitimate movie.

The Monkey HuStle: LAME


Tommy Ross said...

Well, I'm an Arthur Marks fan and I like both Kotto and Cash so lame or not, I'm gonna have to give this one a try, never heard of it before, thanks Peter!

Tommy Ross said...

nabbed it for $5 on Amz, will report back lol..

Tommy Ross said...

After viewing this I feel like writing on the chalkboard a hundred times "Thou Shalt Trust In Peter"