Chris Rock brings his critically acclaimed brand of social commentary-themed humor to this 1999 standup comedy presentation from HBO. Also released as an album, Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker... See full summary »
Mays Gilliam, a Washington D.C. neighborhood Alderman, is about to be red-lined out of his job. But after the untimely death of the party frontrunner, Gilliam is plucked from obscurity, and thrust into the limelight as his party's nominee--for President of the United States. The players in Gilliam's life include: Mitch Gilliam, his unsophisticated older brother who becomes his running mate; Kim, his ex-girlfriend who had once dumped him, but who now has a sudden change of heart as she sees a chance at becoming First Lady; Martin Geller, his campaign manager; Lisa Clark, the woman who truly believes in Gilliam; and Debra Lassiter, the woman who doesn't have faith in his candidacy, and is serving as his reluctant advisor. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
When Gilliam is walking on the sidewalk when the car is about to pick him up, the sprinklers that are producing the rain are visible on the other side of the street. See more »
[Mays and Mitch are interrupting Brian Lewis's campaign commercial shoots to force him to debate Mays]
I thought I told you that we won't stop, I thought I told you that we won't stop!
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In the opening credits, it lists many famous politicians, then in parenthesis it says "(Are not in this movie)". See more »
Back in the late 70's and through the early 80's, Richard Pryor made a string of formulaic type movies, the formula being a street-wise black man is unexpectedly placed in a position of great responsibility or privilege for which he is totally unprepared: (Silver Streak, Brewster's Millions, Critical Condition, Bustin Loose). Inevitably, the hero not only succeeds in his newfound role, but excels, all thanks to his streetwise background, which allowed him to confound the numerous white people in these movies who were either thick-headed or cruel mercenaries. This formula, not surprisingly, ran out of gas before Pryor's health started to go downhill, just like the Elvis movie formula did. It was all very unfortunate, because it repackaged Pryor, a true hardcore radical comedian into a middle of the road movie star palatable to a broad based audience. He never reclaimed what he had lost, and neither did Elvis. "Head of State" recycles the same Richard Pryor formula, only updating it to a hip-hop fed generation. Chris Rock plays the Richard Pryor -type character, a Washington DC alderman who catches the attention of Democratic party headquarters as an innovative replacement candidate for the nominee who dies in a plane crash only weeks before the general election. The overall effect is the same watered-down comedy that the RP movies left me with. The backroom cunning and maneuvering is all supposed to look very devious, and Chris Rock turns it all to his advantage, outsmarting the professional politicians at every turn.
The attempted humor in this movie left me cold and annoyed. There were joking references to the assassination of Malcolm X and JonBenet Ramsey that I guess were supposed to make me laugh. They didn't, and nothing, absolutely nothing, in this movie did. The slapping, punching, and assault & battery incidents are continuous and an assault on the senses. Someone has been watching a lot of 3 Stooges. Robin Givens plays a disgruntled ex-girlfriend of the candidate who is repeatedly victimized. In light of her experiences with Mike Tyson, this seems to hit a new low in bad taste. Rock speechifies in his presidential debate scene on the benefits of knocking children in the head when they misbehave, and receives a standing ovation. Not funny.
The problem with a watered-down movie is that it always hedges its bets, flip-flopping between earthy comedy and the serious tones. This movie, which actually has an interesting premise, would have been a lot better if it had gone way over the top, and not pandered to any sense of reality or decorum, like say for example, "Animal House." Put Chris Tucker or Ice-T in the candidate role, with no attempt to be loved by the audience. Bring the 'hood to the White House, and rename it the Black House. Load it with sex, drugs, rock & roll, and FUN!
I couldn't help but feel cynical about the Hollywood establishment's political vendetta associated with this movie. Chris Rock's opponent has an identifiable Texas twang, is personally venemous and slow-witted. Sound familiar? This same establishment will also back liberal governors and senators with expensive haircuts, but has never seriously gotten behind a black presidential candidate. I guess if you produce a movie about it instead of making it happen, that excuses you.
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