No! Not The Orphans! The Funny Side of Marvel's Luke Cage
Like most of you, I cranked through every episode featuring Marvel’s newest Defender last week. Since we have a full review coming later, I’ll just say I especially loved the throwback score and directing style — the amount of both subtle and not so subtle homages to the exploitation era of Richard Roundtree and the legendary Pam Grier gave this movie a strong identity that a lot of Marvel’s other offerings are lacking.
I’ve been fascinated by the films of that era for a long time. Exploitation and culture appropriation? Absolutely. But there’s so much raw talent and pulp in the years of everything from Shaft to Switchblade Sisters to American Ninja that the genres can’t be written off.
So, as a comedian who loves this stuff, I love the films that parody it all the more. I couldn’t help but laugh a lot while I was watching Luke Cage, because I just kept waiting for a crying mother to explain that her son had overgolded, and for Cage to ponder how he could have gone to the bathroom with all that stuff on.
What better time to give some love to the three best? I love these movies. I’m not going to lie, I love them so much it probably makes me a shitty ally. There is probably some real think piecey analysis to be done about a scrawny white dork obsessed with blaxploitation parodies, but it just can’t be helped. Let’s do this. Let’s pour some of this love into your hands for ten cents.
I grew up on I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. I probably watched it once a week. Was it weird for a 10 year old nerdy white kid in braces to walk around quoting “Oh, yes, whitey is very tricky…?” Yes. And yet, it could not be helped.
Keenen Ivory Wayans, who wrote directed and starred, nails the tropes of the genre so well in this movie. The cast is fantastic. Antonio Fargas shines as a tragic pimp who hasn’t changed with the times, and Bernie Casey plays standard issue street hero John Slade so well you’ll cheer for him like McTiernan was directing. Keenen is the star on both sides of the camera. Sucka really shows you the potential of this comedy dynasty before they drifted into Scary Movie 3 territory.
Really, the only reason Sucka feels dated is because the classic spoof genre feels dated. As a man whose top 5 comedies includes the second Hot Shots and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1, this is the saddest sentence I’ve ever typed. But the old saying applies: they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
There are two kinds of people in the world: people who think Pootie Tang is stupid and hilarious, and people who can pretty much go fuck themselves.
I love this stupid, stupid movie. I saw it in the dollar theatre with my buddy Sean, and it is one of the only times I hit that level of laughing at something where I could no longer produce sounds. My face just looked like a 90’s Jim Carey character on mute.
If I owe Luke Cage anything, it’s for reminding me that it has been far too long since I watched the adventures of a vigilante that is too cool for words whose dad was killed in a horrible gorilla accident. To quote Cage’s show- not enough fathers. If only Luke’s dad had appeared to him as a vision in a corn costume.
Hell, if only all of America’s fathers would. You know?
Also I can’t be the only one whose mind did a hard cut to a lady screaming into Pootie’s shoulder any time a lady made a sploosh face at Cage.
Which brings us to the crown jewel: Black Dynamite. While Pootie Tang is an exercise in Louis CK and company refusing to say no to a single idea, Dynamite is a laser-focused joke machine. One of the biggest injustices in Hollywood is that this movie didn’t make Michael Jai White fucking famous.
I mean, come on. Colin Trevorrow makes a perfectly fine but textbook quirky movie about time travel and he gets to direct massive blockbusters. Jai White walks a brilliant tightrope between playing the title character completely straight while still winking at the camera (and glaring at boom mics) and he’s still guesting as C stringers on CW shows. That’s the kind of industry race issue I’d like to see Luke Cage hit with a car door.
This is one of the most quotable, original comedies of the last decade, and if you haven’t seen it it’s time for a viewing party.
Honestly, if you want to binge something, make a day of these three. You owe yourself a day’s worth of kung fu treachery, dollar store belts, and choices between windows and stairs.