I recently caught the brilliantly hilarious film Black Dynamite, truly one of the baddest and best comedies in many, many a year and, possibly, one of the best films I’ve seen in a long, long time. Michael Jai White is pitch-perfect – on a number of levels – and freakin’ sensational as the 1970s superhero Black Dynamite in this amazing send up of blaxploitation films.
The film gets a bunch of stuff amazingly right: the cars, the pimpmobiles, the hair, the clothes, the shoes, the wallpaper, the furniture, the things we liked and the hair. Oh yes, and the hair. Director Scott Sanders and cinematographer Shawn Maurer don’t shy away from the low, nearly amateurish production values of the genre and its time (and the fact that the major studios hardly gave these films anywhere near the kind of money it takes to make a film) and gives it all those yucky period browns and oranges.
Indeed, many are often surprised to find that Black Dynamite was introduced to the world in 2009 and not sometime in the early seventies with fellow heroes Shaft or Superfly. The filmmakers do a tremendous “send up” that feels so real because there’s a lot of love and admiration in the knowingness, which makes the rapid-fire humor much, much funnier than a presentation of mere pastiche or parody.
Another thing the film gets right is the music. Adrian Younge, who provides the original score (and is, most oddly, the film’s editor too), and David Hollander, who scours a vast archive of library music to assemble a wall-to-wall soundtrack of fantastic sounds, are both spot on. The great folks at waxpoetics have issued two worthy Black Dynamite soundtracks on their own label – and “it’s not a comedy” for those of us who dig the funk and other seventies sounds.
Black Dynamite (Original Motion Picture Score) – Adrian Younge: Multi-instrumentalist Adrian Younge makes his debut on Wax Poetics Records with his original score to the Michael Jai White comedy Black Dynamite. Inspired by the great blaxploitation soundtracks of the 1970s, Younge commands the Rhodes electric piano, Hammond organ, Hohner Clavinet, harpsichord, synthesizer, vibraphone, guitar, bass, flute, sax, cello, and drums, crafting with a singular vision. Whether it’s the witty vocal of “Jimmy’s Apartment” or the lowdown bass line of “Rafelli Chase,” the entire album is deeply authentic.
Black Dynamite (Motion Picture Soundtrack): Music supervisor David Hollander handpicked each track and cue from the vast reservoir of 1970s British library music, originally created for film and television. Maestros Alan Hawkshaw, Brian Bennett, and Johnny Pearson lay down exquisite and precise funk, but the bulk of the material comes from Alan Tew’s celebrated Drama Suite series (as heard on The Hanged Man and The People’s Court). Wax Poetics Records presents an authentic package with original artwork by Maceo Leatherwood.
What follows here is a brief clip that was not featured in the film and is ridiculously hilarious. Black Dynamite guests stars on the Sesame Street-like show “Ding Dong Roar” singing “Drugs Are Fun” (hahaha irony) with hip cat Funky Feline:
Finally, here’s another spot where Black Dynamite changes the course of history when he meets a young boy named Barry: