I stumbled upon 1990’s Graffiti Bridge recently while bored and looking through the free movies on my cable’s On-Demand service. I don’t know what made me stop on it, but I read the description and it sounded like good, cheesy fun and anytime is always a good time for some Prince (the writer, director, and star). Then I looked it up on IMDB.com and learned that Prince asked Madonna to play the female lead but that she turned it down because she thought the screenplay was awful.
I am going to repeat that.
Madonna turned this movie down because she thought it was awful.
So of course, that sealed it for me and I excitedly hit “watch.”
This is one of those many cases where the soundtrack is better than the movie. At lot of times that isn’t saying much, but fortunately because it’s Prince, there’s some pretty kickass music involved. The performances, which can function as standalone music videos, are a lot of fun to watch and Prince can dance in 6” heels better than most girls I know can walk in them.
Move aside Gaga. Prince is coming through.
There’s also the nostalgia factor. Everything about this movie screams early 90’s – The costumes, the hair, the make-up, the hi-cut bikini-bottom underwear, everything. It’s all the funky, fresh, and fly a person can handle. After every dance number I kept waiting for Keenen Ivory Wayans to come out and tell us what a great show he had for us tonight.
This is the same exact set used in Graffiti Bridge. Probably some of the same people too.
Graffiti Bridge is the unofficial sequel to Purple Rain. (“Unofficial” meaning Prince didn’t want it to be, but producers saw how terrible it was and convinced him to tie it in to cash in on the previous film’s success.) I know I’ve seen Purple Rain at some point in my life but except for “When Doves Cry”, I don’t really remember it. It doesn’t matter though- you don’t need to have seen Purple Rain to understand Graffiti Bridge because Graffiti Bridge makes no sense all by itself.
Oh, you don’t even know the half of it.
I don’t even know where to start or how to divide up the beers (SPOILER: It’s a six pack!), so I’m just going to walk you through the “plot” and insert the beers in the order that I thought to myself “I need a drink” while watching. Cool?
We’ll start with the dark, neon-lit street that doesn’t even try to not be a Hollywood sound stage. On this
soundstage street are four clubs that are all next to each other: Pandemonium, Clinton Club, Melody Cool, and Glam Slam. All of the clubs are partially owned by Morris Day of Morris Day and the muthafuckin’ Time. He’s the big bad boss guy. We know this because he makes his cronies eat hot peppers and uses his girlfriend’s coat to cover a puddle of water in his path like in cartoons. He also sets things on fire by peeing (gasoline?) on them and setting it ablaze while singing the ABC song with keyboard accompaniment (L-M-N-O–-).
Prince is once again known as “The Kid” (he was 32 years old at the time, but sure, why not) and he owns half of Glam Slam, where he also lives. Morris wants to take over Glam Slam because it isn’t making a lot of money, despite always being packed full of funky people doing fully choreographed dances in unison while Prince and his band (which I think is the New Power Generation because that symbol is everywhere) perform. To get his point across, Morris intimidates Prince by showing up to his club and singing and dancing. Everyone is so into it, they up and follow Morris out like he’s the Pied Piper or something. Way to drive out the business of a club that half belongs to you!
He may not think very logically, but damn are his suits breathtaking! And he’s got a guy with a keytar. You don’t mess with that.
Morris also sends his gang to trash Glam Slam, which, once again, half belongs to him. They don’t do much damage, though a couple of keyboards bite it.
Of course there’s a girl. It’s really too bad Madonna turned this down, because it would have been incredible, but really, how could Prince expect the star of Who’s That Girl to play second fiddle in a fluff film like this? Instead, the girl is someone named Ingrid Chavez, who most likely went into hiding after appearing in this movie (but not before writing “Justify My Love” for —–Madonna!) She plays Aura, who is some kind of ghost/angel/spirit because she can disappear and reappear and also because every time she appears there’s this ethereal music that sounds like the Windows 95 start-up tone.
For some reason we can hear Aura’s thoughts, which are like: “Oh no!” “I have to help him” and things like that. (My guess for that reason: She’s a terrible actress and can’t express emotions non-verbally.) Aura’s thing is that she writes poems that are supposedly deep and wonderful and inspiring to Prince, but it’s like when Jewel came out with that book of shitty poetry and everybody except Kurt Loder was like “Ooh, those are great Jewel, you’re so talented.”
Besides writing shitty poems and having snappy comebacks like this:
Morris: “Hey baby, where’d you get that ass?”
Aura: “The same place you got your manners.”
… Aura is also kind of an idiot. She apparently has some elaborate scheme to seduce Morris (this happens directly following the scene I just mentioned) for, well, I don’t know why. One of her (voiceovered) thoughts is “It’s working.” I don’t know what exactly this big plan is or how it’s working because she ends up drinking way too much White Zinfandel, passing out, and nearly getting raped by Morris and at least one member of the muthafuckin’ Time. But thankfully, Prince comes and saves her before that happens. (It seems angels can’t make themselves disappear and reappear while intoxicated.)
Aura wakes up in Prince’s bed and they play a rousing game of hangman on heart-shaped construction paper. (I swear I’m not making this up.) Then he shows her some poems he wrote in graffiti on a wall, not a bridge, a wall, and they fall in love and I guess do it, but he mostly just picks her up and puts her down a lot–which is quite impressive considering he only weighs 75 pounds.
At this point I went to get a drink and forgot to pause it. When I came back Morris Day was angry (probably over the rape not working out) and was playing War or something with money while that Dueling Banjos song played. Seriously. Hangman and “Dueling Banjos.” I chugged the drink I had and went back to get another.
Oh my god you guys! Remember that song “Round and Round?” Not the one by 80’s hair metal band Ratt, the one by the cute little boy with the big shoulder pads that Ashley had a crush on in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and he came to her birthday party and she fainted? He’s in this and he sings that song and all the people cheer! It has nothing to do with the plot but the plot is just an excuse for a bunch of music numbers anyway.
Round and round and round and round and round and round we go.
Speaking of, all the songs fade out at the end. I understand that in no actual reality would the events in this film take place (even in 1990) and to point out something like the pre-recorded songs fading out at the end when the performers are supposed to be playing live is being silly and nitpicky, but it still bugs me.
Round and round and round and round–Where was I? Oh, yes, my favorite part of the whole movie! Get ready.
Prince shows up to confront Morris Day at his place and makes the best freaking entrance I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
This is what he does: He stands in the doorway and goes “AAAAAAAOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!” It’s so wonderful and he has this shit-eating TROLLLOLZ grin on his face after doing it. It’s one of the best things put onto film in the history of film.
I loved this part so much that I even recorded it on my phone and uploaded it to YouTube just so I can share it with you right now:
See? Morris and his guys didn’t even know he was there until he did that but then he did and they all turned around! He got their attention!
It’s clear Prince has many problems and Morris is a busy man and doesn’t have time to hear them all so he just asks for the MAIN one. Prince challenges Morris to a duel, which of course means a sing-off. The winner gets control of the Glam Slam. I think that’s what they get, I kept rewinding the “AAAOOOWWWWWWWW” part but I kind of zoned out a little when they were talking about the stakes.
So both groups perform and we get to see a whole lot of Prince’s chest hair. I guess Morris’ song was better, though I’m not sure who was judging this competition. Probably Jay and Silent Bob. Prince is sad and his useless muse Aura is thinking (which we can hear!) “I have failed. How can I help him?” Oh bitch, give it up, YOU CAN’T! You are no Apollonia. You’re not even Carmen Electra. Geez. Then Morris tries to get the other owners to sign over their clubs. Oh wait? Did I tell you who the owner of Clinton Club is?
George Clinton!! Hell. Yes.
All of this leads to a big commotion in the street and Aura ends up getting hit by a Jeep. (Spoiler Alert!) Nobody checks on her that much, they just kind of stare at her laying there. They were probably like “thank God, no more shitty poems!” Two seconds later, an ambulance arrives and scoops her up.
Instead of going to the hospital to check on the love of his life that he met two days ago, Prince contemplates killing himself, decides not to, puts on an oversized white sweatshirt, gets a choir together, and sings a heartfelt spiritual song which instantly turns Morris Day good and they shake and hug and everything is okay. Well, except, that Aura’s dead. But not really because she was already an angel. Or a spirit. Or a ghost.
This is right up there in the Embarrassing Movies Starring Musicians Hall of Shame in between Cool As Ice and Glitter. It’s a hell of a lot of fun though in that awesomely bad way and the music is great.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you spot the feather from Forrest Gump.
Take a Drink: every time a character says “This is embarrassing.” (They do and I will bet it wasn’t in the script!)
Take a Drink: whenever “just around the corner” is mentioned or displayed in print.
Take a Drink: every time you see the symbol Prince changed his name to before he went back to Prince.
Take a Drink: when Morris Day and the muthafuckin’ Time do the slide dance.
Take a drink: every time you see the neon moon in Prince’s apartment.
Take a Drink: whenever it appears Prince is trying to make some profound spiritual statement.
Take a Drink: when you give up trying to figure out what that statement is.
Take a Drink: when you see the giant Crisco Corn Oil bottle…on the stage…really.
Take a Drink: whenever Aura’s Windows 95 start-up entrance music plays.
Chug: during “Dueling Banjos.”
Take a Shot: “AAAAAAAOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!” (rewind, repeat)