Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling | Chicago Reader

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling

Richard Pryor delves into the deepest, darkest reaches of his soul and comes up with the plot of a Susan Hayward show-business tearjerker. There's no narrative logic to the scenes that Pryor chooses to dramatize from his life: significant passages (such as how Pryor discovered and polished his talent as a comic) are skipped over; trivial incidents are expanded to minutes of screen time, with no explanation of their obvious personal importance to the writer-director-star. What emerges from the fragmented structure is the sense of a wholly passive character, victimized first by the Freudian excesses of his childhood and later by the hangers-on (wives and drug dealers) attracted by his success. The relentless externalizing of “evil forces” is pure MGM melodramatic hokum; there is much more truth, texture, and self-analysis in any random Pryor monologue, including the one he performs at the end of this film. Carmen McRae, Diahnne Abbott, Debbie Allen, Scoey Mitchlll, and Paula Kelly costar.

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