Dir: Reginald Hudlin, 1992. Starring: Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, Halle Berry, David Alan Grier. Black Cinema.
I am perhaps one of the few people willing to admit that I really, really loved the ‘90s. The high-end and runway fashion, loud patterns in advertisement, classic high-heels on ladies, and squared haircuts on men are all things that I’d be more than happy to see return. The music in many genres did leave much to be desired, but I loved the sense of empowerment and justice found in many of the films in the ‘90s, and even heard through some of the music.

That being said, I also have to admit that aside from the screwball comedies of the 1930s, I think the ‘90s lay claim to some of the best romantic comedies between adults from various backgrounds. Boomerang is very much like a modern screwball comedy, but with a few raunchy twists. Unlike the screwballs of late, the focus is on a male instead of a female, who finds himself in a love triangle with two women. Eddie Murphy stars as Marcus, the untouchable playboy who prides himself on cheap romantic thrills, bedding gorgeous women, and his effortless sex appeal. He’s the head of his department, giving the go-ahead for various commercials and advertisements for women’s cosmetics, which he turns into a dating service for himself by flirting with models during casting. His best friends are the typical sidekicks of every attractive egoist; Gerard (David Alan Grier) is the mousy hopeless romantic and Tyler (Martin Lawrence) is the bumbling idiot who isn’t attractive enough to woo women while simultaneously disrespecting them. When a chance encounter to meet an attractive woman doesn’t come about quickly, Marcus spreads sob stories and/or turns on his nice guy personality to get what he wants. In short, he’s the best as what he does.

Everything is going perfectly until Lady Eloise (Eartha Kitt) comes into the picture. Lady Eloise is a blood-sucking cougar who convinces young men to sleep with her by giving the impression that she has “pull” in the industry and can help them climb the industrial ladder. Up for grabs is a tasty position: head of the marketing department for the new Lady Eloise cosmetics line. Marcus wants the job bad, so he plays along with Lady Eloise and becomes her lover for a night. To his disbelief the next day, he finds out that someone else already has the job: Jacqueline (Robin Givens), the most stunning woman he has ever laid eyes on. Marcus becomes torn with the urge to seduce her and rebel against the fact that he now has a woman for a boss. And Jacqueline is not one for cheap thrills, nor is she someone who views sex as a meaningful or sacred act. Along with this change comes a new entourage of headstrong ladies that give him more trouble than he ever thought imaginable. First is Angela (Halle Berry), the new art director. Though she looks like a naïve college girl, she also shows no interest in trying to advance her career by degrading herself. Her self-respect ultimately comes off as something too good to get mixed up in. Then there’s Strangé (Grace Jones), the new face of Lady Eloise cosmetics. Jones fits the shoes of the crass, oversexed French model to a T and provides comic relief and jaw-dropping shock value.

So the ladies man finds himself surrounded by women who are now his peers and must be treated as such. This of course doesn’t stop him from pursuing Jacqueline, which turns out to be his biggest mistake. His infatuation with her makes him soft, distracts him from his work, and blinds him to an ironic fact: he has met his match and is being played by a woman who is accustomed to bringing men to their knees. When he eventually hits an all-time low and is made humble by humiliation, Angela extends her hand and helps pick him back up. Before long he learns the value of women as people and starts to fall in love for the first time. But will he take advantage of his chance to be with a woman of substance or fall prey to his weakness for women and Jacqueline’s claws?

First off, I’d like to take the time to praise practically every performance here, down to the supporting roles. I’m not so sure I would ever want to see Murphy in a sexualized role again, but he pulled off the whole suave bad boy thing quite nicely. Grier and Lawrence were perfect in their parts and for once Lawrence didn’t make the comedy uncomfortably ridiculous, as he has been doing since Do the Right Thing (let’s not forget that forced speech impediment from hell.) John Witherspoon (Friday) and Bebe Drake (House Party) play the parents of Grier’s character and, though given short screen time, really brought on some well-deserved laughter. Young Chris Rock stars as the company mail boy and his performance was also quite fitting. The name Grace Jones speaks for itself, but aside from Vamp this is the most I’ve seen of her on the screen, and therefore it was a delightful treat. Kitt, Berry, Lela Rechon (Why Do Fools Fall in Love), and Tisha Campbell-Martin (House Party, Martin) all did exceedingly well in their roles. I should also mention that this is one of the rare “normal” roles from Berry and, in the ‘90s, practically the only one where she is quite charming and doesn’t play a crack addict or a floozy. But I have to admit that the music was absolutely wretched, from smooth jazz and bad Casio melodies to an overuse of the song “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton. Besides that, there just isn’t a reason not to love it. From stunning ‘90s haute couture, beautiful ladies, and a cast of great names, Boomerang is one of those New York romance flicks that makes me wish that I could be a young professional during that time.
Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Aug 22, 2011 8:21pm
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