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Graffiti Bridge Reviews

Something of a sequel to PURPLE RAIN (1984), GRAFFITI BRIDGE stars Prince as The Kid, the owner of Glam Slam, a dance club where he plays his own brand of spiritual funk. The Kid is struggling to keep his place from the clutches of Morris (Morris Day) and his musical gang, The Times, who own every other joint in town. Meanwhile, he is pursuing a beautiful angel, Aura (Ingrid Chavez), who shows up in reality and in his dreams, often giving him spiritual pep talks in front of a strange stone bridge covered in grafitti, where the sky changes color with every edit. Eventually Morris and his top aide Jerome (Jerome Benton) find Aura and take her to one of their clubs, not realizing she's on a soul-saving mission, even though she informs them that she is seeking "a spiritual substitute for sex." Morris gives her a drug which knocks her out and which has the power to cause her to fall in love with the first person she sees upon awakening. Hearing of the abduction, The Kid searches for Aura and finds her just as she regains consciusness, thereby becoming her heart's desire. They share a romantic dream, then she tries to heighten The Kid's spiritualism while he continues to battle Morris. He challenges his rival to a performance match and does a tough number ("Tick Tick Bang") with fireworks. The Times top him with a rendition of "Shake," and The Kid loses his club. While speeding away in a car, one of The Times hits and kills Aura. The Kid sings a poem Aura had given him, "Grafitti Bridge," which proves to be so inspirational that Morris is humbled and makes peace with The Kid. Rock musicals have generally succeeded when they are built around strong existing personas, such as Elvis Presley in JAILHOUSE ROCK or The Beatles in A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. With his enormous popularity and his unique personality, Prince would seen ideally suited to create such a musical. Yet in this, his third narrative film, his ego and his bizarre philosophies about life conspire to undermine his movie potential. The musings about spirituality which permeate the film are puzzling, if not silly. Moreover, the film is technically inept. He has improved as a filmmaker since UNDER THE CHERRY MOON (1986)--which is not saying much--largely because he holds his ego a little more in check. The performances are, however, the real death of the film (how many films are there were the extras are noticeably bad?). The music is quite good and will certainly appeal to Prince fans, but it is buried under so much tedious pretention that even the performer's most devoted fans will find it difficult to sit through the film. In addition to Prince and the Times, the film features entertaining performances by funk star George Clinton, Gospel queen Mavis Staples, and rising star Tevin Campbell. When Prince really performs on screen, he's terrific. If he'd take some acting lessons and team with a competent scriptwriter and director, he might be capable of creating a first-rate musical.