Hi, Mom! is another early film of the great Brian De Palma, who once again uses the even greater Bobby De Niro, who reprises a character last seen in Greetings. Jennifer Salt and Gerrit Graham also appear here, but missing is my favorite De Palma stock actor William Finley. Bummer.
At any rate, De Niro is a fledgling pornographer, who ultimately fails in this venture, but then gets involved with a guerrilla theatre group who is presenting an ongoing participatory theater experience called “Be Black Baby”. These portions of the movie are shown as B/W “found footage”, in which black actors put white audience members through a grueling night’s activity including eating soul food, wearing blackface, and then eventually putting the audience through a violent sequence of almost-terrorism.
After the audience is belittled and abused (and nearly raped, for the blonde woman shown above), the audience is released to the streets, where they give rave and highly positive reviews for the experience. In 1970 this was high satire.
It’s an odd film and certainly must be taken with a grain of its-now-45-years-later salt, but it’s a neat little 1970 Manhattan time capsule, but it’s not as amusing as De Palma’s earlier film The Wedding Party (which also has De Niro) and nowhere near as delightfully goofy as The Phantom of the Paradise (which doesn’t have De Niro but does have William Finley and Gerrit Graham in his role of a lifetime, Beef, which must be experienced to be believed.)