*/**** Image C Sound C Extras D
starring Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon, Harry J. Lennix
screenplay by Robert Townsend & Keenan Ivory Wayans
directed by Robert Townsend
by Walter Chaw I remember when Robert Townsend was the Next Big Thing. An alum of Chicago comedy troupe Second City, he got eyed for A Soldier's Story and got his self-styled break with Hollywood Shuffle, a fitfully funny sketch farce about a starving black actor autobiographically frustrated by the lack of dignified roles for African-American performers. Townsend made waves by funding the project with credit cards, shooting without permits, and having the audacity (circa 1986, recall) to bite the hand that feeds. It's ironic, then, that with all his newfound greenlight sway, Townsend promptly made one really bad film (The Five Heartbeats) and another, somehow worse one (Meteor Man), both of which revealed this hyphenate of the moment for a mugging, self-obsessed, stage-bound monologist.