A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Jungle Fever" is Spike Lee's term for unhealthy sexual attraction between the races - for relationships based on stereotypes. Too often, he believes, when blacks and whites go to bed with one another, they are motivated, not by love or affection, but by media-based myths about the sexual allure of the other race.
Lee has explained this belief in countless interviews, and yet it remains the murkiest element in his new film, which is brilliant when it examines the people who surround his feverish couple, but uncertain when it comes to the lovers themselves.
The victims of "Jungle Fever" are Wesley Snipes as Flipper, an affluent, married, successful architect, and Annabella Sciorra as Angie, a temporary office worker. He is African-American, she is Italian-American. She comes to work in his Manhattan office one day, their eyes meet, and the fever starts. Their halting, tentative conversations expand into "working late," eating Chinese food from the take-out, and finally having sex right there on top of the blueprints.
Because I have heard Lee discuss the film, I know he believes that the Snipes and Sciorro characters are blinded to other issues by each other's blackness and whiteness - that she is intrigued by the myth of black male prowess, that he is fascinated by the ideal of white female beauty. But in fact neither of these notions is really established in the film, which is the least successful and focused in the scenes between its two principals. We never really believe the attraction they feel for one another, we never really understand their relationship, and their romance seems to be mostly an excuse for the other events in the movie to happen - the events that make the film special.