Harlem Nights Recap


‘Ello everyone! Harlem Nights? More like Meh, Alright! This movie is so weird, let’s get into it:

  • The Good – I liked the style. The music, costumes, opening credits, feel of it was genuine. It didn’t feel like a bunch of comedians wandering around in costumes looking like idiots. Very very ambitious. There are moments when vintage Eddie Murphy shines through.
  • The Bad – He wasn’t bad, but Pryor just sleepwalks through this. Too often profanity it used as a stand in for actual jokes. The storyline is just kind of boring. It is like noir films, when you hit it it is amazing, but when you miss it just seems like you’ve seen all the twists elsewhere. I was joking throughout the film that it felt like I had been watching it for years. It is so slow it does feel like it takes three hours to get through everything.
  • The BMT – This is a rare one: Nope! Too slow. Too boring. Not enough street cred to warrant wasting your time unless you are an Oscar / Razzie / Eddie Murphy completionist. I would say like 10. Maybe 15 on the BMeTric. But maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

No game this week because I performed a little installment of what I call BMT:CSI:SVU (we’re the special victims!). This is generally data science work about bad movies and is what ultimately resulted in the BMeTric all those months ago. The first installment can be found here, and in general our bad movie musings (quantitative and qualitative) will be held in The Bad Movie Institute of Technology (BMIT), found here.


I really have very little to say about Harlem Nights. I actually thought there was a lot of things done right in the film. The music was great (shout-out to Herbie Hancock), costumes were bomb, and it generally looked nice. The whole story was a mess, though. Just slow and bizarre. So bizarre, it’s hard even to say whether it was a good or bad film in the end… it just was. If you had to try to compare it to something else from that era the obvious choice would be Nothing but Trouble, the Dan Aykroyd disaster. Just like Murphy, Aykroyd was given complete creative control of every aspect of his film. In the case of Nothing but Trouble this resulted in a monumentally unpleasant film that borders on unwatchable. In the case of Harlem Nights it resulted in an ambitious period piece that looks beautiful, but misses badly with an underdeveloped storyline. Clearly one is better than the other. Congrats, Harlem Nights.

Harlem Nights is not based on a book. I would have loved to read that book though. Nice slow, character-driven burn. But I don’t care to talk about a fake book this time. Instead I’ll do a classic Prequel, Sequel, or Remake and I have to say: I think a solid remake could be great, especially if they move fully away from comedy. Cast? Michael B. Jordan in Murphy’s role, Denzel Washington in Pryor’s role, and Danny Glover in Foxx’s role. That would get me pretty excited. Give the film a darker tone, with the major heist at the end cut together with the concurrent boxing match and you got gold I tells yah. Let’s get on the horn, Patrick, and take this train to Oscar town. Of course, the only person who would actually end up getting nominated for an Oscar would be Christopher Walken playing the crooked cop because… well you know why.


The Sklogs

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