Boomerang (1992) (sort of a movie review)

14 Jan

Since the whole thing started when I said that there’s not enough groveling at the end of Boomerang, it was obvious that it would be the inaugural selection for #RomancelandiaMovieNight. 1

However, as this movie came out thirty years ago, 2 I’m doing a quick post with warnings for things that haven’t aged well. (A lot of humor doesn’t age well, because too much of it consists of punching down; I’m not saying those things weren’t offensive or abusive then, I’m saying that now more people know that they’re offensive and abusive.)

With that out of the way.

Basic warnings for adult language, nudity and sexual content, and smoking and drinking on screen.

Additional warnings for transphobia and homophobia (the “chick with dicks” scene, 5 minutes in); it’s a couple of lines of dialogue, but it’s there. Offensive “gibberish can substitute for any Asian language” joke (Gerard and Angela date night at 43 minutes). Mockery of deaf and hard of hearing people’s speech (waiting at the Apollo, about 59 minutes).

Quick an dirty summary:

Marcus Graham (Eddie Murphy) is a dog. He’ll chase every attractive woman he sees. Being attractive himself, observant, and an accomplished liar, he nails an astonishing percentage of those women. Being also basically an asshole dog, he never commits to any one woman, and immediately dumps those who do not meet his ultimate standard for beauty (feet. It’s the feet.) Then, the whole game changes on him. Will he grow up?

No sooner has the movie established that Marcus is a dog and a bastard, we have him sleeping with Lady Eloise (the amazing Eartha Kitt, having an absolute ball with the part, up to and including a Catwoman purr), with the hope that he’ll be promoted, now that their companies have merged.

Instead, his “morning after” brings on the fact that, not only does Lady Eloise have no say on the running of the business, but also that the position was already given to someone from the acquiring company. Enter Jacqueline Broyer (Robin Givens, also having the best time calling Marcus on his bullshit, then bursting his bubble, then busting his balls).

Almost before Marcus can take a breath and come to terms with the situation, the new ‘face’ of Lady Eloise Cosmetics arrives on the scene: Strangé (Grace Jones, chewing the scenery), and he finds himself on the receiving end of some pretty dastardly sexual games.

As all this is happening, coworker Angela Lewis (Halle Berry in her breakthrough role) becomes Marcus’s friend, and when Jacqueline inevitably moves on from the affair, she helps him, both personally and professionally.

Things to love about this movie: The entire setup is a celebration of Black excellence. All of these people are good at their jobs, financially successful, and overall happy people. Aside form the obvious subversion of the womanizer storyline, there are true friendships as part of the world the characters inhabit. Yes, it’s true that Tyler (Martin Lawrence) is crude and obnoxious, but both him and Gerard (David Alan Grier) are true friends to Marcus, and so is Angela.

The chemistry between all the actors is fantastic; there are some really funny lines (Marcus saying “There’s a certain group of people with a natural fear of Black people, they’re programmed you know? Watch: NOW!” and making the white store manager jump in fright), and I imagine everyone involved had a blast during filming.

It’s both funny and cringe-y to see Marcus being the target of office gossip, and while there’s a bit of satisfaction in seeing him get his comeuppance, I have two main quibbles with the movie overall.

One, I don’t like that there’s a strong subtext that Jacqueline tries to get Marcus back because she doesn’t like that Angela may be “getting some of that”. I don’t like the “dog in the manger” trope no matter how it’s played, but I really don’t like it when it’s the other woman.

Second, (pardon the caps) WE NEEDED MORE GROVELING. We really, really needed to see Marcus mope over Angela at least as much as he did over Jacqueline, and I will never forgive the writing team that we didn’t get to see that. 3

Final verdict: beyond the casually offensive bits I mentioned at the top, and some of the more crude campy parts, Boomerang is a funny movie with very engaging leads, great style and an excellent soundtrack.

* * * *

1 I am nothing if not overambitious.

2 How is 1992 thirty years ago. HOW.

3 SPOILER ALERT: I have recently learned that the original script had Marcus alone at the end; when it was decided that he should end up with Angela, two different endings were filmed, one where Marcus visits her at her art class, and the one in the movie.

2 Responses to “Boomerang (1992) (sort of a movie review)”

  1. Lori 16/01/2022 at 3:55 PM #

    Arrrg! I missed it. I really wanted to join movie night. And this sounds like a good one to share. Damn.

    What’s the next one and when?

    • azteclady 16/01/2022 at 4:30 PM #

      We’ll do it again next month! ::hug::

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