Top critical review
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Good looking, smooth, enjoyable B movie.
on October 4, 2000
Eddie Murphy makes his directorial debut with a lushly produced, light hearted, enjoyable period piece about 1930s Harlem club owners. The all star cast turns in a pleasant ensemble performance, with an emphasis on smoothness rather than hilarity.
Film critics cut Murphy no slack, they shredded him for not living up to expectations of a comic masterpiece. They should take a laxative. Yes, yes, I agree that the plot is routine, it's a remake of The Sting, there is profanity, it's not a masterpiece, Eddie is more smooth than funny, yadda yadda yadda.
OK, so maybe Harlem Nights didn't live up to the hype. So what? It's still an enjoyable film. It's very entertaining to watch so many great performers all in one movie, even if they do pull their punches. The costumes are Oscar-caliber, the Herbie Hancock soundtrack is superfine, and everyone looks good.
I notice that Hollywood routinely produces a veritable torrent of well-cast B movies (and far worse). I notice that plenty of mainstream comedians break stereotype and try on non-comedic movie roles. Surely some of our most talented black performers can be given the latitude to do the same? Relax, and enjoy the movie for what it is.