Directed By: Oz Scott & Michael Schultz (Uncredited) Story By: Richard Pryor Adaptation: Lonnie Elder III Written By: Roger L. Simon Cinematography By: Dennis Delzell Editor: David Holden, Skip Lusk & Harry Keramides Cast: Richard Pryor, Cicely Tyson, Paul Mooney, Roger Christian, Earl Billings
Joe Braxton is an ex-con who has been given a second chance to freedom after violating his probation. He has been hired by a school teacher named Vivian Perry to repair and drive an old school bus and drive a group of Special kids to Ms. Perry's Washington Farm from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to give them a new home after The Clarmont Center for Children is shut down by the city. The kids have severe mental problems and Joe is not looking forward to the trip at all, but Joe later bonds with Vivian and the children, offering his support and love and changes his outlook on life. But Donald, the social worker and Vivian's lover who gave Joe his break is hot on their tail and wants Joe back in prison. Joe and Vivian must now prevent Donald from sending the children back to Philidelphia where they'll have no future.
This film has a heavy nostalgia factor. This was one of my favorite movies as a kid growing up. It’s not the best shot, Directed or acted film, but it’s cute and entertaining.
During the production of this film is when Richard Pryor had his infamous accident where he was doing drugs and set himself accidently on fire.
It really shows Richard Pryor’s comedy chops more physical then verbal in this film. It’s made cute by surrounding him with kids and giving him a romantic subplot.(Whoever was the mad genius to match Richard Pryor with kids is a demented genius. Which he would do again later with the film THE TOY)
Now the kids aren’t your typical bunch of cute and harmless. They are more like the bad news bears tough and foul mouthed streetwise with hearts of gold in the end though.
Watching the slow burn romance of Richard Pryor and Cicely Tyson in this film reminded me of the one between Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in THE AFRICAN QUEEN. Richard Pryor streetwise, blue collar, con man usually dirty from trying to fix the bus. Cicely Tyson more white collar educated, cultured always depending and demanding on him and trying to cure him of his bad habits. They have a genuine chemistry that is sweet and organic. Nicely taking its time.
This was when family films played it a little less safe there is some bad language but that is all, nothing really to offensive though some parents might have to show it with caution. I personally think it’s fine one of Richard Pryor’s more formulaic but better films. Maybe because it asks him to act more and play a character. While letting him make it his own. So it’s sort of him going Hollywood but also letting him be himself as I am sure many scenes let him go off of script and improv.
I remember when I saw this film playing regularly on NBC Channel 4 in New York on Saturday nights as the big movie of the week before cable became widespread at least in my neighborhood.
One of the most memorable and heroic scenes that even was featured on the poster is of Richard Pryor being followed by the Ku Klux Klan then getting them to help him out.
This is a must own just to remind you of Richard Pryor’s talent. How loose the 80’s were when it came to kids films. The films tried to treat kids like thinking humans instead of now how it seems the kids films are just quick cutting, Bright colors. Action and made to sell merchandise. Instead of treating kids like they have some kind of intelligence.
Plus a personal plea I love the soundtrack if anyone has it please send to me. I watched this movie so much the songs are embedded in my memory.