Picks and Pans Review: Graffiti Bridge

updated 11/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Prince, Morris Day

Boy, Steven Bochco just dodged a bullet. Until this miasmal mess drifted in, it seemed like he had a lock on biggest bomb of the year with his TV series Cop Rock. But Prince blows right by Bochco with this absolutely incoherent musical.

In most regards the film is a return to Prince's 1984 movie bow (wow), Purple Rain. Once again he's a character called the Kid, a poor suffering artist who—when he's not performing his funk-rock songs in nightclubs—rides around in stiletto-heeled boots on a sort of Batcycle. This time Prince, the writer-director-star, has given the proceedings a murky, mystical spin.

One of the main characters (Ingrid Chavez, who looks like a Hispanic Judy Carne) is a troubled, earthbound angel. We know she's a spirit because her face is usually illumined by a small spotlight. She's there to stand watch over our brooding hero.

While she's in this mortal coil, she takes a whack at saving the soul of Prince's nemesis, Day, another Purple Rain holdover. But she can't even put a dent in Day's boundless vanity. Thank goodness for that. His comic narcissist is the movie's only vaguely comprehensible character.

Day and his group, the Time, offer up a molten rendition of "Shake!" in the film's climactic but oddly inconclusive battle of the bands. (The often electrifying performance scenes are the only times the movie emerges from its fog, but they're nothing you wouldn't see on MTV)

The meaning of this clumsy cinematic conundrum is anyone's guess. For the most part Prince seems to be hoisting himself on the horns of the same duality that inspires most of his song lyrics: spirituality vs. carnality. But this time he's taken his kinky obsession a Bridge too far. (PG-13)

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