In a follow-up to his appearance in "Mo' Money," Damon Wayans stars in "Blankman," a superhero adventure-comedy that reunites him with his "In Living Color" sidekick David Alan Grier. It's refreshing that there's finally a comic-book fable that celebrates a self-appointed neighborhood crime fighter in the "Superman" mold.
In a follow-up to his appearance in “Mo’ Money,” Damon Wayans stars in “Blankman,” a superhero adventure-comedy that reunites him with his “In Living Color” sidekick David Alan Grier. It’s refreshing that there’s finally a comic-book fable that celebrates a self-appointed neighborhood crime fighter in the “Superman” mold. Adults, however, may find the film too goofy, too loud and vastly uneven in humor and execution, which may explain why Columbia decided not to hold advance press screenings. Still, this kinetically nutty pic should take a healthier bite at the B.O. than Robert Townsend’s “The Meteor Man,” which had a similar premise.
After a childhood prologue, pic finds Darryl Walker (Wayans) as an eccentric inventor who wants to make a difference in Metro City, Ill., to the chagrin of his protective older brother, Kevin (Grier).
When crime reaches unbearable proportions — the police go on strike, the mob holds the mayor hostage — Darryl decides to take action. Garbed in a cape fashioned from his grandmother’s housecoat, he transforms himself into a mythic, vigilant hero, whom the puzzled media name Blankman.
As a comic-book fable, “Blankman” is populated with all the usual suspects: the sleazy newsman (Jason Alexander) who tries to get the scoop on Blankman; the mayor (Christopher Lawford) thwarted by the mob; the underworld kingpin (Jon Polito). There’s also unexpected romance with a beautiful TV reporter (Robin Givens).
Mike Binder, whose two previous pix (“Crossing the Bridge,””Indian Summer”) were semi-autobiographical, imbues “Blankman” with hyperactive slapstick, turning the film’s assaultiveness into a comic style that is only intermittently effective. But he succeeds in orchestrating a visual corollary to the narrative, using set pieces with realistic earth tones which later change into fantasy colors.
James Spencer’s production design accentuates the childlike p.o.v.
Pic is a showcase for the chameleonic Wayans and his from-the-hip humor. Many scenes are played for broad and naive laughs that kids may find charming but mature viewers will find dumb.
Secondary cast members all hit their marks: Grier lends sanity as the reluctant sidekick; Polito plays the mob boss to the hilt; and the sexy Givens adds a much needed touch of grace.
In contrast to the coarse “Mo’ Money,” the playfully naive “Blankman,” which Wayans executive produced and co-wrote with J.F. Lawton, doesn’t conceal its feel-good nature and old-fashioned values of faith, sincerity, idealism and communal responsibility. Pic has many shortcomings, but it’s also a rarity: an inner-city adventure devoid of high-tech bloodshed and gratuitous violence.
Kevin Walker - David Alan Grier
Kimberly Jonz - Robin Givens
Mayor Harris - Christopher Lawford
Grandma Walker - Lynne Thigpen
Michael Minelli - Jon Polito
Mr. Stone - Jason Alexander