“Baadasssss!” is Mario Van Peebles’ personal tale of the trials and tribulations his father Melvin Van Peebles went through in making his revolutionary independent film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” in 1971, a film that had as its tagline “Rated X by an all-white jury.”
Mario’s father Melvin had just had a box-office hit with “The Watermelon Man” and everyone in Hollywood wanted to sign Melvin up for his next film. But Melvin had different ideas. He wanted to make a film that would be authentically raw and street, but the moneymen and Hollywood moguls were terrified and said no. So Melvin raised the money on his own and created a truly revolutionary film for its time. This process did come at a price though, especially for his family and his son, Mario.
However, the rest is film history and “Baadasssss!” is one of the rawest and best True Hollywood Stories you’ll ever see. It’s a very sincere attempt by a son to honestly (and sometimes painfully) portray a father’s genius and shortcomings without giving short-shrift to either. One of the best films of the past decade, one of the best films about filmmaking ever made, and one of the best films I’ve ever seen period.