Opened: March 14, 1997 | Rated: PG
I arrived a few minutes late to the screening of "B.A.P.S." The theater was already dark, so no one saw me come in. That turned out to be a stroke of luck because I can't tell you how embarrassed I am to have anyone know I saw this movie.
Before the opening credits are over, "B.A.P.S.," about the Beverly Hills adventures of two "homegirls" from Decatur, establishes itself as a catalog of ghetto jokes (and I use that word in the loosest possible sense) so stereotyped that had the leads been in black face it couldn't have been more insulting.
Made on the cheap by Robert Townsend ("Meteor Man"), the movie is all antiquated plot devices, reaction shots and cameos.
The story is painfully contrived. Two Georgia girls (Halle Berry and newcomer Natalie Desselle) -- whose personalities consist of gold teeth, big hair, leopard-print Spandex and long fingernails -- go to L.A. to get their big break in a video for rapper Heavy D. Having failed that, they are immediately picked up outside the audition by a dying millionaire's assistant and asked to pose as his long-lost lover's grandkids.
The only bit of originality in "B.A.P.S." comes in the form of the back story for the terminal millionaire (Martin Landau). As a teen he fell in love with one of his family's black maids. When the family found out they dismissed her and married him off and he's been broken-hearted ever since.
But as soon as that explanation is out of the way, the movie jumps right into the "Beverly Hillbillies" gags. The bidet is mistaken for some strange second toilet. The Picasso is described as looking like "Lakesha Jenkins with a bad hair weave." The nouvelle cuisine is discarded for soul food cooked by the girls while hip hop plays on the soundtrack.
You get the idea.
What's worse, each of these scenes play like an isolated skit. There is nothing to tie one bit to the next.
But "B.A.P.S." doesn't stop with insulting the audience's sense of humor, it also insults our intelligence. Example: When our heroines show up for the audition they are awed at the huge line of dancers in front of them. But the shot pulls back only far enough to show about a dozen girls. Townsend was working so cheap he didn't even hire enough extras for a crowd scene. I guess he figured no one would notice.
Nothing happens in this movie that isn't completely anticipated. There's a scheme by a money-grubbing nephew. There's abandon boyfriends who follow the girls to California and win them back with pathetically hollow romantic gestures. There's a shopping spree scene in which the dying old man becomes hip and a tender moment in which the girls are clutched by guilt over posing as the granddaughters they are not...ad nauseam.
Even with only this simpleton plot to cope with, Townsend can't manage even rudimentary story-telling. "B.A.P.S." is so sloppy that the girls' trademark gold tooth caps disappear part way through the film. It's so poorly written that entire chapters come out of nothing more than the introduction of a cameo (L.L. Cool J, Dennis Rodman, etc.).
I don't even want to do "B.A.P.S." the honor of writing a lengthy review of it's faults, so I won't start in on the acting, but I do have some free advise for both Landau and Berry: Fire your agents.