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Head of State (2003)

PG-13 | | Comedy | 28 March 2003 (USA)
When a presidential candidate dies unexpectedly in the middle of the campaign, Washington, D.C. alderman, Mays Gilliam is unexpectedly picked as his replacement.

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10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Kim
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Senator Bill Arnot
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Bernard Cooper
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Nikki
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Advisor
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Mr. Earl
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Himself
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Nate's Girl
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Storyline

One candidate for the presidency dies in an accident a couple of weeks before the election. Meanwhile the alderman Mays Gilliam becomes a hero when he rescues a woman and her cat from an old house that would blow up. However his fiancee Kim does not pay his bills and dumps him, and Gilliam loses everything including his fancy car. When Senator Bill Arnot sees the news on television, he plots a scheme with the party advisors Martin Geller and Debra Lassiter to invite Mays to be the party nominee and lose the election for the other candidate, Vice-President Brian Lewis. Four years later, he would be the candidate and would have the chance of winning the election. Mays has a terrible beginning of campaign but when his older brother Mitch Gilliam meets him in Chicago, he advises Mays to be himself. Will he have the chance to be the first African American President of the USA? Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The only thing white is the house.

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language, some sexuality and drug references | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

28 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chef de l'état  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$13,503,484 (USA) (28 March 2003)

Gross:

$37,788,228 (USA) (6 June 2003)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The main character's name Mays Gilliam is a combination of two famous New York baseball players from the 1950s: Willie Mays of the New York Giants and Junior Gilliam of the Brooklyn Dodgers. See more »

Goofs

After Mays sees his ex-girlfriend in the restaurant sharing a drink and it starts to rain, the reflection in the windows show that the sky is clear and blue, so it's very unlikely to be raining. See more »

Quotes

Players Ball pimp: Don't I know you?
Debra Lassiter: No!
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Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, it lists many famous politicians, then in parenthesis it says "(Are not in this movie)". See more »

Connections

Featured in The Making of Head of State (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Too Hot to Stop (Part 1)
Written by James Alexander, Charles Allen, Michael Edward Beard (as Michael Beard), Larry Charles Dodson (as Larry Dodson), Fred Freeman, Harvey Joe Henderson (as Harvey Henderson), Harry Nehls, Lloyd Ed Smith (as Lloyd Smith), Winston Allen Stewart (as Winston Stewart) & Frank C. Thompson (as Frank Thompson)
Performed by The Bar-Kays
Courtesy of The Island Def Jam Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

Chris Rock could -- and *should* -- do much better
30 July 2003 | by (http://www.danheller.com/movies) – See all my reviews

Chris Rock has made an interesting name for himself. He's a black comedian who's been in almost 60 feature films; a writer and co-writer for movies and TV shows like Saturday Night Live; and is a man with strong political opinions. So, with all that talent and experience, you'd think that if he were to write and produce a political satire, it'd be a mix of biting comedy with a message.

If only that were the case with `Head of State.' Instead of biting satire poking fun at the political system, there's a collection of gag jokes that, in themselves are funny, but neither politically pertinent or satirical in any way. What's more the romantic-comedy subplot is way too prominent, elbowing out the main theme of the film.

Rock plays Mays Gilliam, a Washington, D.C. alderman, who's a man of the people. He not only does good things in his neighborhood, but even the drug dealers like him. When the existing democratic presidential candidates unexpectedly die, Gilliam finds himself selected by the party to replace them, all in the name of a politically ambitious underling who sets up Rock to lose in hopes of securing the nomination in the next election. Through a series of gags and mishaps, Gilliam not only gets elected, but gets the girl too.

The film certainly has the gags, many of which are genuinely funny. In fact, if it were all gags, a la `Airplane' and `The Naked Gun', then Rock's film would have been surprisingly refreshing. But, the humor was diluted by attempts at a serious side – both on the political front and the romantic front – and the script fails to know when one ends and the other begins. What's more, the serous or romantic sides to the film, gags notwithstanding, were just plain silly.

It's not that the formula doesn't work. It's been done many times before, such as `Dave', starring Kevin Klein, and Warren Beatty's `Bulworth'. In each case, the `candidate' was unlikely and over the edge, but their straight talk and unconventional approach to politics appealed to the people and resonated with movie audiences. In essence, using this theme as the platform for satirical poignancy was very effective (from an entertainment perspective, not necessarily as a valid social commentary). In the end, the reason these films worked is because it was clear where the gags end and the seriousness begins.

On a separate note with respect to today's current events, I couldn't help but notice that it's because of reality that this movie is actually more disturbing than it should be. In fact, it harkens back to the good old days of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Back then, people didn't take politics or world events seriously at all, as evidenced by the fact that we had actual, serious attempts at the presidency from people such as Donald Trump, Ross Perot, and yes, even Warren Beatty. You'd never see those names in mainstream press in today's environment. Perhaps `Head of State' should have been released during a time when society's perception of politics and the presidency wasn't so important. But today, it's just plain eerie and disturbing.


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