Chris Rock is kind of a weird dude in my opinion. Remember when he was first on Saturday Night Live? The guy didn’t seem funny at all, and they would just bring him out whenever they needed a black guy. It took a while but eventually he started to get better material and he really broke out, and when he left the show people really started to realize what a smart guy he was. His standup specials are great, his Chris Rock Show was great and he produced that movie POOTIE TANG which is one of the more madly brilliant cult hits of the past such and such period of time.
But despite all this his movie career is only a level or two above David Spade’s. His heart is in the right place but he ends up making corny shit like CB4. When he tries for more credibility he instead ends up in a god damn Kevin Smith movie. I guess NURSE BETTY was okay but still, the guy is obviously capable of so much more.
Well maybe HEAD OF STATE is the first baby step toward living up to his potential, I don’t know. This one he directed and co-wrote in addition to starring. He plays a Washington DC alderman who saves an old lady and her cat from an exploding building so he ends up running for president (long story). Because he’s a black dude he starts advertising himself like a rapper and in his speeches he starts telling it like it is, Bulworth style, and saying “that ain’t right.” It’s funnier than it sounds, though.
The feel of it is like one of the better Adam Sandler movies not including PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. It all feels real cheesy, the bad guy characters are REVENGE OF THE NERDS broad, there seems to be little understanding of how presidential races and real life work, but still there is alot of real funny jokes, mostly that seem to come out of the blue. And then in between those jokes he starts scratching a record and playing “Hot in Herre” and the old white people dance and everybody laughs.
I enjoyed the movie though, there were alot of big laughs. It’s no POOTIE TANG because in that movie the plot was so light that you kind of forgot it was even there and it seemed to transcend the art of the cinematic storytelling and evolve into some higher life form that cannot really be explained, like that magic space baby at the end of 2001. In HEAD OF STATE it’s more like a Chris Farley vehicle where you almost feel like you’re supposed to care about the characters. But not quite. Like all those type of movies, there is a love story that seems like it is sincerely trying to be sweet, but you don’t fucking care about that shit. The movie is best when it’s firing off in all different directions. Like when the democrats first tell Chris they want him to run for president, there is a quick shot of him accepting the presidency and immediately being shot.
One of the highlights is Bernie Mac as Chris’s brother Mitch, who runs for vice president. Now I think the whole world has caught on by now but Bernie Mac is the greatest. He has that wild, intense look in his eyes and every time he sees Chris Rock he starts punching him in the gut because he’s little brother. Unfortunately he only really comes into the movie in the last act so you don’t quite get as much of him as you wish you did.
Keith David is also in there but only in one scene. Tracy Morgan from SNL and Crank Yankers has a small part as a guy who tries to sell stolen meat.
Now a word about Chris Tucker. Don’t worry I’m not retarded I know the difference between Chris Rock and Chris Tucker. But here’s the thing. Mr. Tucker is a very funny man who has done several great performances: the hilarious FRIDAY and MONEY TALKS, the controversial FIFTH ELEMENT and the dramatic DEAD PRESIDENTS and JACKIE BROWN. But when he teamed up with Jackie Chan for RUSH HOUR he became a superstar. Suddenly he could get $20 million for a role. But he turned down almost everything. In fact in the 5 years since RUSH HOUR he has done exactly one (1) movie: RUSH HOUR 2. I think he’s a humble dude, and he wants to do a good job. He’d rather just live a normal life than put out some fuckin Martin Lawrence style shit once a year. In fact he almost did BLACK KNIGHT but backed out when it looked like it wasn’t going to be good. Then he travelled to Africa with Bono to learn about AIDS.
But there is one movie he tried to develop during that time, and it was an epic comedy drama about becoming the first black president. He said it was going to be very thoughtful and emotional, he even had Maya Angelou helping out somehow. He was very seriously preparing the movie to the point that he actually hung out with Bill Clinton to learn about the life of a president. During the 2000 election, before it became the 2000 coup, I remember watching Larry King one night and the three guests were Jon Stewart, Chris Tucker and some republican columnist in a bow tie. Mr. Tucker talked about his experiences developing the movie and started to stray off into fictional stories, like the time Jesse Jackson took him to the White House and it looked like nobody was home, but Jesse had a key to the side door so they went in and Jesse called out in the dark, “Bill? Bill, are you home?” The republican thought Mr. Tucker was serious and was completely outraged that Clinton had given Jesse Jackson the keys to the white house. You could tell he was already composing a column about it, hoping to be the first to break this shocking new scandal in the print media.
Anyway the point is, god damn it Chris Rock, I liked the movie but why did you have to fuck over Chris Tucker like that? Don’t tell me you didn’t know. God damn it. Oh well.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.