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Let’s Do It Again

Posted by martinteller on January 31, 2013

At the local chapter of their Atlanta lodge/fraternity, Clyde Williams (Sidney Poitier) is the vice marshal and Billy Foster (Bill Cosby) is the treasurer.  Their lodge is due to be demolished, and there aren’t enough funds on hand to start construction on a new one.  They hatch a scheme to head for New Orleans, hypnotize a hopeless boxer named Bootney Farnsworth (Jimmie Walker) and bet big dollars on him to win.  But they’re playing with fire when they try to pull a fast one on warring bookies Biggie Smalls (Calvin Lockhart) and Kansas City Mack (John Amos).

Let’s do it again, indeed.  Poitier is following pretty much the exact same formula he used the year before in Uptown Saturday Night.  Two working class guys (even their jobs are roughly the same… steel worker and cabbie vs. factory worker and delivery driver) trying to make some fast money and getting in over their heads with duelling criminals.  A series of comical close calls with our heroes surviving by their quick wits.

But hey, it was fun (to a degree) the first time, so why not?  Poitier and Cosby do make a lively team.  I’d say this one has less social commentary than its predecessor, but is slightly funnier.  Cosby really shines here, just about everything he does is worth at least a smile.  Nice support from Denise Nicholas and Lee Chamberlin as the protagonists’ wives.  I wish there was a little more from Walker but he has a couple of funny moments.  Ossie Davis is basically wasted, in a rough analogue of the Flip Wilson role from the previous movie.  Of the two antagonists, Amos leaves a stronger impression… although Lockhart’s character did have a famous rapper named after him, so there’s that.

As a longtime Curtis Mayfield fan, I once owned the soundtrack for this film.  With songs composed and produced by Mayfield and vocals by the Staple Singers, it’s… well, it’s no Superfly.  I think I played it once, maybe twice.  But the music works better in the context of the movie, funk/disco scoring propelling the action and a couple of nice songs.  It won’t make you run out and buy the record (unless, like me, you’ll snap up anything by Mayfield) but it gets the job done, sometimes quite well.

The story is entertaining and despite being a little long, there’s always enough humor to keep it rolling along before it starts to sag too much.  There are some plot holes (or at least implausibilities) especially at the climax, but it’s all in the service of a good time.  A rehash of the same formula, perhaps, but one that sails on the strength of the comic chemistry between Poitier and Cosby, and some good gags in the script.  Rating: Good (74)


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