By Scott Weinberg (reprinted from January 2009 -- Sundance Film Festival)
The spoof (aka broad parody) sub-genre is a schizophrenic beast. At its best, the spoof can treat you to something as sublime as Airplane!, as mindlessly amusing as the Scary Movie series, or as stunningly worthless as Epic Movie. But the spoof remains the comedy sub-genre for filmmakers who are also movie geeks. Basically, you need to have seen a lot of Airport movies to write Airplane!, and you need to have some solid experience with blaxploitation movies to produce something like Hollywood Shuffle, I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, or this newest arrival: The slightly overlong but consistently giggle-worthy Black Dynamite, which aims to do to Shaft and Superfly what The Naked Gun did to police procedurals.
And for the most part, the experiment works like a charm. What I found most appealing about Black Dynamite is that, while it will certainly strike a chord with the old-school blaxploitation fans, the flick also works on its own as a very broad, very goofy, and (yep) very clever little satire. Even if you wouldn't know Hammer from Blacula, there's a good deal of straightforward silliness to be found in Black Dynamite -- and it also feels like one of those eminently quotable comedies that frat guys and movie geeks will come back to time and again. Black Dynamite is to blaxploitation what Austin Powers is to '60s spy flicks -- and really, how many young comedy fans know anything about In Like Flint, Sweet Charity, or Modesty Blaise? Very few, I'd wager, but that didn't prevent Austin Powers from becoming a mega-popular franchise.
Director Scott Sanders and a team of screenwriters have concocted a '70s-era comedy that, to its credit, actually manages to evoke several of the sub-genres staples: Our hero is a noble ass-kicker who uses odd slang; women hang on his every gesture; villains quake at the sight of Black Dynamite's fighting stance; and of course the proceedings are coated with a colorful sheen of tacky clothes, crazy cars, and hilariously over-the-top fight scenes.