Prince has had his follies, but never has he been associated with an album or film as lackluster as this one. To call Graffiti Bridge a feature-length rock video would be an insult to videos: The movie can barely muster the energy to get from one shot to the next. This time, Prince has forsaken his soft-core salaciousness for the higher spirituality. While his rival, the freckled dandy Morris Day, fights for control of the Glam Slam nightclub, Prince simply gazes into the camera with the winsome bedroom eyes of a naughty fawn — he’s Bambi with testosterone. In the meantime, his female costars get the usual shabby treatment. They’re on the receiving end of shoves, insults, and a general attitude of pimp-like hauteur, which the movie would like to pretend is a mere put-on.
Now that Prince is into ”love” (instead of salvation through sin), it’s clear that there’s something fundamentally nasty and perverse about his reduction of women to flesh-and-blood party dolls. Graffiti Bridge is a sad fiasco — and except for ”Shake!” the music (at least to my ears) is Prince at his most joyless, a collection of glorified rhythm tracks. For the first time, the revolutionary funkster seems to be preaching to a world that has left him behind. D-