As far as revisiting comedians go. Not a lot of pre-90’s comedians’ humour really resonates with the expectations of today’s audience. Of course, there are exceptions. However, I have noticed a lot when I am disgusted that someone hasn’t seen an 80s comedy staple like ‘Coming To America’ or ‘Naked Gun’ and force them to watch it with me, more often than not I am the only one laughing. They cannot connect with the slapstick or ridiculousness, they find it cheesy and most of all they find it completely strange that my nostalgia has kicked into gear and I am in stitches.
One person from this era that is a massive exception is the crude, rude and ultimate dude Richard Pryor. His unrestricted humour and sensibility is a timeless classic. And whilst I am a big fan of a lot of his work, one film that I would suggest you shouldn’t watch is Bustin’ Loose. Pryor in this film sort of weirdly tries to attract the family audience. Essentially, ‘Passion Of The Christ’ is the only film to ever get family America’s butts on theatre seats with an R rating, so I am not too sure what ol’ mate Richard was thinking was going to happen with this one. The plot especially is one that does not age well at all. Considering it revolves around a bus full of special needs students escorted by an ex-con and a parole officer on a road trip through America, you can see how some of the jokes would make the ever offended populous of 2017 cringe and try to resist the urge to start a takedown hashtag on Twitter.
As is the vein of this column though, the soundtrack is sublime. I don’t think it saves the film. To be perfectly honest I don’t even think it works that well with the film. However, it is undeniably soulful and truly funkified. Roberta Flack, the 60’s and 70’s soul songstress takes the reigns of the soundtrack. You may know her from laying original claim to the song ‘Killing Me Softly’, and if you thought that was an original then I am sorry I destroyed your mid 90’s R&B fantasy’s and I suggest you don’t fact check the rest of your favourite jams from this era.
The soundtrack waivers from the tear-jerking of ‘Lovin’ You (Is Such An Easy Thang To Do)’, to the Latin influenced shake of ‘Qual E Malindrinho (Why Are You So Bad)’. It appears that Roberta was very late to the disco party and instead of the soulful ballads she is most remembered for we get a soundtrack where a blend of disco and funk has deeply infected each song. The party doesn’t just stop with her as she covers the Luther Vandross classic ‘You Stopped Loving Me’ and he appears on version doing backing vocals, whilst revered musicians such as Buddy Williams and Barry Miles are credited on many of the tracks too.
The standout for me on the whole soundtrack is ‘Rollin’ On’ which appears in a slightly memorable scene from the movie when one of the characters Dakota desperately needs to go to the bathroom (yes that sounds about as unfunny typed as it is when watched). It is moving and grooving disco at its finest. The strings (like all great disco anthems) are the overperforming understudy in the track. A rich bassline and vocal chords that won’t quit, if there is one track to listen to from Bustin’ Loose, for me it is this one.
As the great man Richard Pryor himself once said “there’s a thin line between to laugh with and to laugh at”, and unfortunately for him, there is not much need to tightrope this thin line with Bustin’ Loose as he and the film are generally not that funny.
You can find the full soundtrack here.