Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American Northeast Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.
February 26 and 27, 2000, the Original Kings of Comedy play Charlotte, NC. The themes are Blacks and Whites, men and women, old-school and hip-hop. Steve Harvey emcees, celebrates '70s music and lyrics of love, and pokes at folks in the front row. D.L. Hughley mines racial differences and talks about his marriage. Cedric the Entertainer riffs on a Black president and on being grown up. Bernie Mac, who says he expresses what's in the back of our minds, closes with reflections on being 42 (new aspects to his sex life and his attitude toward children). Spike Lee's camera takes us backstage and off-stage with the Kings and into the crowd where everyone's laughing.Written by
This was a very disappointing comedy show. It wasn't even so much the profanity or vulgar scenarios that they were discussing that bothered me (because I love Chris Rock's work so much), but instead it was more the way that these four men presented themselves and represented themselves on stage. The self-proclaimed ringleader of them all, Steve Harvey, was the worst. The fact that he didn't even have enough material to survive on stage was pathetic enough. That set the tone for the rest of the film that was not a positive tone. His cheap monologue was filled with community insults and personal insults to the audience. I know they may have been all in fun and jest, but to me it never really came across as fun. Either Harvey was upset with the audience presented to him, or he just wasn't ready for his moment on stage, but it just came across as a completely different person than I was expecting. The same can be said for all of them whom were somewhat more concerned about their image than the jokes that they were telling.
I don't know why Lee chose this project to place his name on and why he proclaimed these four to be the "Original Kings of Comedy." To me that is a bit misleading. If he is speaking about African Americans being a part of comic culture, then I don't think these were the four to best represent it. What about Eddie Murphy, Red Foxx, or even the great Richard Prior? What about Bill Cosby? There just seemed to be a self-proclaimed stigma already attached to this project before we even began it that was hurt with the opening of each of their mouths. I was not impressed by any of them. If I had one dollar to give to one of them for their performance from the evening, and was forced to hand it to one of them, it would have been Cedric the Entertainer. He just seemed the most genuine of them all. His performance on stage was honest, yet bold all at the same time. He was talking to the audience, not above them, as the other performers seemed. While I don't think he was the most liked in the audience, I did think that he was the most talented of them all.
Another huge problem that I had with this film was the cut sequences. You know, the moments that we spend talking to them off-stage about their lives and opportunity ahead. This tries to give them a sense of humanity, showing the audience this different side to them than when they are on stage, but what I witnessed was something a bit scarier. It seemed as if each was trying to grab the attention of the camera. Were we dealing with a group of camera hogs that were willing to step on anyone to get to the next level? Whether it is true or not, nothing is said to speak otherwise. While these were created to show their brotherhood, it felt more like filler delaying the inevitable consequence that we were going to go back to a sub-par routine. It was like a tease that hurt.
Overall, I was not impressed. I have seen some comedians take an opportunity like this and blow it out of the ballpark, but what I saw with this documentary were four men (possibly five if you count Spike) that just wanted the opportunity to showcase their talent. They were not interested in the audience, or in trying to actually be funny, but instead just be on television. Notice that most of them are doing well now after the release of this film, which means that something worked. I just wish that they had put the same excitement behind their work in this film. From utter confusion to just downright profanity (without a joke), these guys felt as if they were "winging it" instead of demonstrating to us the power of their trade. I was embarrassed for everyone involved, even the people in the audience, but hope that others will see this review and take heed The Original Kings of Comedy is not worth the time or effort that you are going to put into it. If they are not willing to work to make me laugh than why should I laugh?
Grade: ** out of *****
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