Twelve years ago this week, my favorite Spike Lee film opened in theaters — Bamboozled. With little to no promotion, the movie barely got a run at theaters, but created a huge buzz due to screenings on various college campuses. I first heard about Bamboozled from students at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I saw the artsy Spike Lee Joint at a theater in Manhattan — instead of a movie poster, which is usually posted for every film, Bamboozled had a 8 x 10 computer print out. The sheet of paper was taped to the door of the theater. Bamboozled was getting bamboozled in every direction.
Bamboozled was the story of the Mantan Show, the new millennium minstrel show that became a television sensation. The flick starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Tommy Davidson, Michael Rapaport, Mos Def, Savion Glover and Damon Wayans as the lead, Pierre Delacroix. Bamboozled received mixed reviews and wasn’t a box office hit, but in many ways Lee’s vision of a resurgence of minstrel shows has come to life in the form of reality television.
Bamboozled is an underrated classic. If you haven’t seen it, Nextflix it right away.