The Monkey Hustle (1976)

Man, even Yaphet Kotto and Rudy Ray Moore with their combined charisma as Daddy Foxx and Goldie don’t save this movie from being a massive disappointment. At its best, which is rarely, the movie offers some amusing blaxploitation shenanigans  and at its worst you’re scratching your head in confusion over what the scene that’s happening on screen has to do with anything. And of course at the very end you realize, there really wasn’t a plot to speak of. The movie mainly consists of just a bunch of random scenes where the main cast, i.e. the kids working for Daddy Foxx, are caught up in tomfoolery or they’re picking up girls, etc. It’s so over the place that it doesn’t even really manage to be funny most of the time, so you easily start zoning out of pure boredom. At least there’s actual hustling   going on occasionally so the title is somewhat accurate. But most of these hustle have very little entertainment value , so usually you just wait for Kotto or Moore to be on screen again in case they do something interesting. When they do get screen time, the movie does light up like a Christmas tree and you immediately start to pay attention again like a Pavlovian dog, but these scenes do very little to salvage the flick as a whole.

You really have to wonder if the makers even had anything worth calling a script when they shot this movie.  Nothing portrays this better than the expressway subplot that over the course of the movie gets referenced several times and culminates in Kotto and Moore’s character deciding to fight the expressway project, out of fear for losing their business interests if they do nothing. Now, this might look on surface like they had some idea of a central plot that gets built up over the course of the movie and then will be resolved in a climactic hustle that they pull on the city to save the community and neighborhood, but you’d be wrong. You see, you never actually get any idea how the two of them were going to fight the construction of the expressway, because they are just shown to decide doing so, and then in the climax what happens is that the neighborhood throw a block party that ends in the community spraying the bulldozer team with a fire hose, after which it is just announced that the expressway construction plan has been canceled. Subplot resolved. It’s as disappointing and anti-climactic as everything else about this movie.

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