From the Archive: Graffiti Bridge

As can be gleaned from the introductory hook to the review, this was written for the radio show The Reel Thing. I think we traveled to Madison to screen it, which was a long way to go for such a terrible movie. (The other films included in the same episode were Rocky V and White Palace, both of which I know opened in our smaller town.) In the writing of it, I didn’t mention the most memorable moment in the film, in which Morris Day urinates on a plant in Prince’s club, then promptly sets the plant on fire, implying that he somehow pisses kerosene. As I recall, I couldn’t figure out a satisfying way to write about that moment without the phrase “pissing kerosene,” which of course wasn’t allowed on the radio, especially back in 1990. I’m very glad I get to employ it now.

A couple of weeks ago on The Reel Thing, I talked about how sexism seemed to be on the increase in Hollywood. I talked specifically about reports from the set of Dennis Hopper’s film THE HOT SPOT, which detailed him making offensive remarks to the women in the film as they prepared to film nude scenes. If only I had seen GRAFFITI BRIDGE before that release, I would have had so much more to talk about. Prince’s new film GRAFFITI BRIDGE is so filled with blatant sexism that it can be purely unwatchable. The women in this film are merely objects for the men to play with, fields for their masculine conquests. Characterizations are either nonexistent or so broad and offensive you wish they were nonexistent. This fact would probably be even more reprehensible if any of the male characters had any substance. But even they are empty. The lead character played by Prince could often be replaced with empty air with little effect. We never got to see even the surface to this character, much less his soul.

Much is made of spirituality in this film, but it’s all talk, we never see or feel any. The only person in this film who is able to squeak anything out of his character is Morris Day, who embraces his role as Prince’s competitor with a campy vigor. He does a fine job of injecting the part with a humorous villainy that can be mildly entertaining when it’s not overwhelmed by the film’s less appealing aspects.

There’s no point to even discussing the film’s love interest except that she spends much of the film writing the worst poetry ever created and speaking breathlessly about redemption. The film claims to be a continuation of PURPLE RAIN, but it is ultimately nothing more than a series of pointless music videos strung together. I’m not a big fan of PURPLE RAIN, and I’m less of a fan of GRAFFITI BRIDGE. Prince is often considered to be one of the best and most creative musicians working today, and much of the music here is quite entertaining. But if Prince’s music is what you’re interested in, check out the album. Skip the movie.