A paean to safe sex, "Booty Call" is an oddly effective comic mix of the politically correct and outre stereotyping. A mixed bag of street humor, broad, bawdy jokes and hip-hop music, the film is very much on target to score a bull's-eye with African-American auds. That should produce ample enough commercial returns as well as ring the bell for social responsibility.

A paean to safe sex, “Booty Call” is an oddly effective comic mix of the politically correct and outre stereotyping. A mixed bag of street humor, broad, bawdy jokes and hip-hop music, the film is very much on target to score a bull’s-eye with African-American auds. That should produce ample enough commercial returns as well as ring the bell for social responsibility.

The premise is very, very simple. Buppy Rushon (Tommy Davidson) is ready to get down with Nikki (Tamala Jones) after a chaste, two-month courtship. She has mixed feelings about this development and decides on the fateful night to drag her girlfriend Lysterine (Vivica Fox) along as a buffer. Rushon’s posturing pal Bunz (Jamie Foxx) makes it a foursome as they check out a local Chinese eatery.

Takashi Bufford and Bootsie’s screenplay is basically a sketch comedy elongated to feature length. So, the structure is really a series of blackouts with the hijinx unfolding variously at the restaurant, in the apartment and at a convenience store when the men are sent out to get condoms.

Though straining at the bounds of good taste (and occasionally spilling over), the story remains vigilant in its primary focus. The women are eager to have fun, but passion will not supersede protection.

Director Jeff Pollack indulges a cast that includes a feisty Jack Russell terrier, a fawning restaurateur and a pair of Punjabi open-all-nighters. The supporting cast members draw their roles with far more outlandish sweep than the picture’s primary quartet. It’s difficult to tastefully describe the dog’s under-the-table antics or the manner in which Chan (Gedde Watanabe) cozies up to Bunz. Suffice it to say that the situations and execution often are hysterically funny and their reliance on low humor leaves one feeling guilty for enjoying some extremely mean jokes. The film is definitely an equal-opportunity racial-ethnic stereotyper.

What ultimately provides the glue is the pic’s charismatic leads. Davidson, routinely cast in manic parts, proves himself a first-rate straight man to Foxx and a winning light leading man. The calm he projects is all the more sweet as he rapidly unravels at the climax. The women also form an interesting yin and yang, with Fox particularly fine as a bottom-liner who can’t quite come to grips with her trigger-finger libido.

Tech credits are solid, certainly several notches better than most ethnic low-budgeters. The filmmakers also wisely keep it short and sweet. However, economy shows its seams in “Booty Call’s” attempt to sub Toronto for New York, with results decidedly non-Manhattan.

Despite the tale’s profane nature and sexual theme, there’s an underlying sweetness to the material. It’s an unusual twist that gives the film that extra little edge to keep its head aloft in the marketplace.

Booty Call

Production

A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation of a Turman/Morrissey production. Produced by John Morrissey. Co-producer, John M. Eckert. Directed by Jeff Pollack. Screenplay, Takashi Bufford, Bootsie.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe color), Ron Orieux; editor, Christopher Greenbury; music, Robert Folk; production design, Sandra Kybartas; art direction, Armando Sgrignuoli; sound (Dolby/SDDS), Douglas Ganton; Cantonese coach, Mo Chow; assistant director, Jeff Authors; casting, Mary Vernieu, Ronnie Yeskel. Reviewed at the Village Theater, L.A., Feb. 18, 1997. MPAA Rating. R. Running time: 79 MIN.

With

Bunz - Jamie Foxx
Rushon - Tommy Davidson
Lysterine - Vivica A. Fox
Nikki - Tamala Jones
Akmed - Art Malik
Singh - Scott LaRose
Chan - Gedde Watanabe
Yoyo - Ammie Sin
Judge Peabody - Bernie Mac
Dr. Zevroloski - Robert Bidaman
Dr. Blade - David Hemblen
Arguing Woman - Amy Monique Waddell

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