It’s been a pretty long week for me, as I’m currently running around Seattle, holding my breath so I don’t get a contact high from all the weed out here and end up naked in the Puget Sound, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like exhaustion stop me from squeezing another film in for this Pulitzer-worthy 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days series. And today’s movie is the 1997 fish-out-of-water basketball comedy Fakin’ Da Funk, which starred Dante Basco (AKA Rufio) and was most likely given its title by middle-aged white men.
I, for one, never understood the big deal about Basco, but it’s probably because every girl my age growing up wanted him to punch her V-card, and it pissed me off because I could wave a wooden sword around like a jackass, too. Whatever, let’s talk about this surprisingly decent movie.
The trailer isn’t available on YouTube for some unknown, but you can watch it in all of its glory on IMDB, in case you want the basic rundown. Otherwise, I’ve got you covered right here…
The Nasty Dunk Of A Plot
Joe and Annabelle Lee lived in Atlanta and adopted a Chinese baby named Julian by accident, but they decided to keep him, because what the heck? He grew up to be the kid from Hook whose career just sort of fizzled out after a while, but he still gets jobs, so it’s cool. Anyway, like most African-American families in the 90s, they had to move to South Central Los Angeles to fulfill their oath of obligation. Wait, I hope that’s right. That’s what my black friend told me to write, because it would make me “street legit.” Yeah, this has to be right, he wouldn’t lie.
Now a teenager, Julian goes from being a cool kid who fits in with everyone in Atlanta to a nobody in his new neighborhood, so he constantly had to prove himself to all of the guys who play basketball and smoke “the chronic,” which was the name of a Dr. Dre album. He was a physician who specialized in “whack ass,” again according to my friend. He was very helpful in all of this.
As Julian is trying to prove himself, he meets Karyn, played by Tatyana Ali, who played Ashley Banks in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air TV series. Here’s a fun fact that I just made up but is probably ridiculously accurate: 98% of white male teenagers in the 90s had Tatyana as the No. 1 girl on their “Jungle Fever Wish List.” No. 2 was Tyra Banks and No. 3 was Tatyana Ali again.
One of the key problems of this film comes as Julian’s brother starts hanging out with a gang run by Tone Loc. It’s nice to see that Tone Loc had the versatility to play both a cop that runs off with Surf Ninjas to stop a cyborg colonel and an L.A. gang leader. Where were Tone Loc’s Academy Awards, gosh damn it? WHERE?!?!?!
Margaret Cho played another Chinese teen named May-Ling, who was also trying to adapt to life in a predominantly black neighborhood with her adoptive black parents as well. And Nell Carter was there, and Dolemite was there, and everyone ends up learning hilarious-yet-heartfelt lessons about who we really are inside and why that matters most of all.
Now that I’ve completely glossed over the details of the movie with a really disrespectful and semi-offensive recap, let’s talk about the few points of interest that really matter:
1) From the IMDB “Trivia” section for Fakin’ Da Funk was this one and only piece of information: “Considered to be the first Asian-Black movie and helped spawn Rush Hour.” Is that really true? When Ross LaManna and Jim Kouf wrote Rush Hour, did they say, “You know, Fakin’ Da Funk really taught us something. We should make this a movie about a black cop working with a Chinese cop”? Or did Brett Ratner come in and wipe the Doritos crumbs on his hands on a model’s breasts and shout, “We need more ethnicities!”
I’d really love to get some more insight into the validity of this statement, because the fact that this forgettable movie could inspire anything is mind-blowing. Although, I would be curious to know if watching Julian play basketball had any influence on Jeremy Lin’s desire to play basketball as a child. I’m serious, I’m not trying to make jokes about race and nationalities right now. Yet I’m completely aware of the hole I’m digging.
2) THAT’S BO JACKSON AS THE PREACHER!!!
Beyond this role, Bo Jackson only acted one more time, as he played Manson in The Pandora Project, starring Daniel Baldwin, Erika Eleniak and Richard Tyson. You could offer me $10 million to tell you if that movie is even real and I’d probably guess no. But it is. Also, it always kind of surprises me that Eleniak wasn’t a bigger star. Who could ever forget that cake scene in Under Siege? I miss you, Erika.
3) Hey, would you like to buy a copy of Fakin’ Da Funk on DVD? You’d better hurry up then, because there are only five copies available on Amazon. Also, they cost $879.99. That’s not a joke, they actually cost $879.99. Don’t worry, though, that is a bit ridiculous and you can buy a copy for much cheaper on eBay. Yeah, it’s just $182 there.
If anyone buys this DVD, please email me because I’d love to interview you.
4) In this scene, the guy who played Roofio kisses the girl who played Ashley Banks.
I can’t imagine another scene in any movie made in the 1990s that would have caused white boys and girls to go so insane with hormonal desires. This might be the most important cultural moment of the 90s. In fact, because I’m not even trying to think of anything more serious at this point, yes. Yes this was the most important cultural moment of the 1990s.
I feel like we’ve accomplished so much today. Thank you, Fakin’ Da Funk.