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Vivica Fox’s 51st Birthday Is Today. Let’s Celebrate By Revisiting One of Her Earliest Films: ‘Booty Call’

Vivica Fox's 51st Birthday Is Today. Let's Celebrate By Revisiting One of Her Earliest Films: 'Booty Call'

On Vivica Fox’s 51st birthday (time sure does fly), how about a look at one of her earliest films; no, not “Set It Off,” as you might expect (it’s a bit too easy, and an obvious choice), but rather the film she made right after that, 1997’s “Booty Call” – maybe one that some of you would like to forget.

If I were to launch an S&A series revisiting Vivica Fox’s *forgotten films* “Booty Call” would probably be on that list. It’s one of those “black films” that has come to exemplify (in the minds of many black folks) – although some would say unfairly – the least ideal, least desired kind of commercial, mainstream “black cinema” (“Soul Plane” would probably be right up there too).

I haven’t watched the film in years, yet it oddly still feels quite fresh in my mind. I can still remember it quite vividly actually, and being entertained by it.

The film has been decried frequently, and becoming almost a kind of curse word, we could say; like one of those things that shouldn’t be spoken about with any amount of satisfaction or appreciation, for fear of being smacked, whether literally or figuratively.

But I’d also say that it’s for those reasons that it’s become something of a cult favorite in other circles, or one of those proverbial guilty pleasures for countless folks. 

So was it really that bad?

Maybe the question should instead be: Why is it so polarizing? It seems like audiences either really love it, or hate it with a passion – based on random surveys I’ve done.

It’s a risque, unabashedly crude and lewd sex romp, laced with preaching about the necessity for safe sex, and I remember finding it silly but entertaining when I saw it in 1997, even though I did feel that there just wasn’t enough material to hold up the film for its full running time. But I was also much younger then, and wasn’t at all interested in film as a career of any sort. So, as I saw it at the time, it was relatively harmless entertainment, although with a serious message about safe sex; A farce that I felt some took far too seriously, and rejected as some kind of Scarlet Letter for “black cinema.”

Although, I’ve certainly matured quite a bit over the last 18 years, and my film vocabulary, as well as my overall awareness and critical thinking skills, have evolved accordingly; and it’s partly for that reason that I will watch the film again, 18 years later (maybe this weekend), if only to reach an opinion that’s informed by my current sensibilities. I might even live-tweet as I watch.

Maybe I’ll still be entertained by the movie as I was when I first saw it; or maybe I’ll cringe a lot; or maybe I’ll even get so upset with it that I wouldn’t get through the entire movie. Who knows?

Regardless, I’m giving “Booty Call” another go. So, wish me luck! Feel free to join me if you’d like.

The film was made for about $7 Million, which was actually a descent budget for its time (especially for a film of its ilk), and it still is, even today. I think it’ll be a challenge for any black filmmaker to attract that kind of money for a project in the current industry climate. Although I’m actually surprised that a sequel isn’t currently in the works, given how sequel/threequel/prequel happy Hollywood seems to be these days.

Directed by Jeff Pollack from a script by Takashi Bufford (his last feature film script), “Booty Call” grossed a not-very-impressive $20 million in theaters. Although, I don’t know how well, or how badly it did on DVD. But given that it’s become a cult favorite or a guilty pleasure for some, I’d guess that it did, and continues to do well enough on the home video market.

I wonder how Vivica Fox feels about it today? Or any of her co-stars – Jamie Foxx, Tamala Jones and Tommy Davidson (don’t forget the late Bernie Mac’s brief appearance in it).

But Happy Birthday Vivica Fox! I remember there was once a rumor that Vernita Green, a.k.a. Copperhead (the character she played in “Kill Bill”), might show up in another “Kill Bill” film, in which her daughter, Nikki, grows up and avenges her mother’s death. If you recall, Vernita’s daughter Nikki unintentionally witnesses her mother’s death at the hands of The Bride. On exiting Vernita’s destroyed home (after their vicious fight), the Bride apologizes to Nikki, Vernita’s daughter, and then adds that, when Nikki grows up, if she ever wants to avenge her mother’s death, she (The Bride) will be waiting for her.

I remember some hoped that we’d see that film; alas, it never came. Don’t hold you breath either.

Here’s the trailer for “Booty Call” as a reminder:

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