Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1999) from Tuna

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986) is a biopic centered around Richard Pryor nearly burning himself to death. As the film opens, he is in intensive care in critical condition, and his alter ego reviews his life to show him how he got where he was, and possibly how to make new choices for the future. This is all told as part of a stand-up comedy routine upon his return to show business. Basically, the film just doesn't work. It plays more like a confession and plea for absolution than an insightful look at what caused a famous and wealthy comedian to be living alone and lonely, and to incinerate his face and most of his chest freebasing.


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DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

Prior was neither funny, for the most part, nor able to elicit any empathy from the audience, and gave a flat performance throughout. The cinematography was done well, which created some nice visuals in the cathouse where he was raised, and a stage scene where Paula Kelly as "Satin Doll" dances wearing pasties and a g-string. The other exposure came from Maureen C. Solomon dancing topless at a party.

From a craftsmanship standpoint, the film is fine, but it is just not an interesting or engaging story. C-.

The Critics Vote

  • 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 4.8 of 10
  • with their dollars ... it grossed a reasonably good $18 million dollars


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. (Scoop's note: I wish I could somehow recapture how much Pryor used to make me laugh, but he didn't leave a legacy that really does him justice, and I can't really remember why I thought he was that good.)

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