You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Five Heartbeats

Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic.

Cast:
Robert Townsend Michael Wright Leon Harry J. Lennix Tico Wells Diahann Carroll

Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic.

Story begins in 1965 when fictional group the Five Heartbeats begins to emerge among other black pop groups then combining harmonies and slick choreography. Film follows the bouncing ball through the paces of every mediocre musicbiz story ever told, from talent contest to record deal to shoestring radio support tour, racism, hit single, media blitz and superstardom.

Script renders characters in the big ensemble cast as little more than types, with a constantly shifting focus and no one to really follow, and Townsend’s vision and direction are wildly schizophrenic, veering from tragic depths to manipulative, heart-tugging poignance.

Townsend seems most at home with the music, and there are scenes onstage in which the film really hits its stride.

The Five Heartbeats

Production: 20th Century-Fox. Director Robert Townsend; Producer Loretha C. Jones; Screenplay Robert Townsend, Keenen Ivory Wayans; Camera Bill Dill; Editor John Carter; Music Stanley Clarke; Art Director Wynn Thomas

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 122 MIN.

With: Robert Townsend Michael Wright Leon Harry J. Lennix Tico Wells Diahann Carroll

More Film

  • village rockstars TIFF

    Village Rockstars,' ‘Summer 1993’ win Mumbai Film Festival

    Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic. Story begins in […]

  • Vivien Leigh

    Vivien Leigh Biopic in Works From 'Feud: Bette and Joan' Writers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic. Story begins in […]

  • Bill Nighy

    Film News Roundup: Bill Nighy, Jack Lowden to Star in Comedy 'Made in Italy'

    Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic. Story begins in […]

  • Busan: Director Kamila Andini on Balancing

    Busan: Director Kamila Andini on Balancing Motherhood and Filmmaking

    Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic. Story begins in […]

  • VidAngel logo

    VidAngel Declares Bankruptcy to Put Copyright Fight on Hold

    Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic. Story begins in […]

  • Morgan Freeman Colin Powell

    Morgan Freeman to Play Colin Powell in Biopic

    Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic. Story begins in […]

  • Channing Tatum

    Channing Tatum Pulls Sexual Abuse Movie, Cutting Ties With Weinstein Company

    Convincing only in its sweet and dazzling musical sequences, this overly sincere effort otherwise misses its mark. Counteracting the negative black stereotyping he lampooned in his directorial debut, Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend lays out a parade of positive role models in a clean, upbeat family-oriented entertainment that feels oddly square and unauthentic. Story begins in […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content