Shafted (2000)

Rating: D+

Dir: Tom Putnam
Star: “The Incredible” Morgan Rusler, Hayley Man, Angelle Brooks, David J. Alexander

The concept here certainly has potential – a white mental patient is released into the world, believing himself to be a) black, and b) someone just far enough away from Shaft to avoid copyright problems. He teams up with a Japanese ballerina who is disguised as her cop brother, and his mental health officer. Hilarity ensues. Well, some hilarity anyway; for every really good joke, there is a long period when your mouth will remainly resolutely set on horizontal. The politically-correct should certainly stay away, as racial and sexual stereotypes abound – with varying success, e.g. the Indian homage to Taxi Driver is lovely, but lacks a final punch to seal the joke.

Morgan Rusler seems to think shouting and waving his arms is funny by itself; in reality, it’s when the script shows inventiveness that the film really comes alive. Angelle Brooks’ transformation into Foxy Brown (after an all-night session of Pam Grier movies) is inspired, to the point where you feel she was channelling Grier directly, and more of her would have been welcome. There are enough ideas for a riotous 20-minute short here, not least the unexpected presence of Gary Coleman (who even says “Whatcha talking ’bout, Willis?”): the other 70 are less than awe-inspiring.