MOVIE REVIEW: Head
Head of State knows better than Mike Tyson
Head of State
Starring: Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Robin Givens
Directed by: Chris Rock
By Pierre Hamilton
|Gazette file photo
|WOULD YOU TRUST THIS MAN AS THE NEXT U.S.
PRESIDENT?Well, at least he's better than Bush. Chris Rock paints
the White House black in Head of State.
If Bill Clinton was
black, he'd be played by Chris Rock. If Al Gore was black, wellÉ you can
only stretch a metaphor so far.
In Head of State, Rock plays Mays Gilliam, a down-and-out alderman
in the ghettoes of Washington, D.C. who is hand-picked to lose the presidential
election. However, in this fantasy, you can't keep a good black man down,
as Gilliam and his older brother Mitch (Bernie Mac) embark on their campaign:
"MG2K4, Ya Heard!"
Between assassination attempts, the Nubian combo of M & M (Mays and Mitch)
dodge interview questions, struggle against ruthless politicians and still
find the time to keep it real.
While every fairy tale has a narrator, only Head of State employs
hip-hop crooner Nate Dogg to fill in viewers with plot details.
Do stand-up comedians lose their creative edge when they get to Hollywood?
Yes! Chris Rock is funny; in his stand-up movie Bigger and Blacker
he stunned fans worldwide with a style of presenting social commentary
that jumped out of the screen and held a knife to your throat for the
duration of his act. Like Crystal Pepsi and slap bracelets, those days
have come and gone. Chris Rock is safe, watered-down, ego-driven Hollywood
Like day-old bread, a lot of the jokes in Head of State are stale,
but unlike in other top-grossing "fish out of water" comedies
(see: Bringing Down the House), you will laugh on more than one
occasion. Continuing the Saturday Night Live trend of hiring
your co-workers, Rock gives Tracy Morgan the role of "Meat Man."
Morgan thrives in the small role, using the old "east coast, west
coast" beef to his advantage.
Robin Givens returns to a role she last visited in her brief marriage
to Mike Tyson, playing May's gold-digging ex-fiancée. In a climatic break-up
scene ripped from the pages of her divorce, Kim (Givens) berates Mays
to the point where he actually raises his fist to hit her. Fortunately,
he doesn't follow through a lesson Tyson himself has yet to learn.
Writers Chris Rock and Ali Leroi spare no expense in cutting up everyone
from Jay-Z to the richest black woman in America, Oprah Winfrey. On a
date with his romantic interest, Mays points to the United States Treasury,
telling Lisa (Tamala Jones) that if you look inside the windows you can
see Oprah counting her money: "$20 trillion, $21 trillion."
Head of State is exactly what the people want to see a comedy
that conforms. From Bullworth to Undercover Brother
to Head of State, the formula remains the same. Take any black
comedian, place him in close proximity to white folks, add one enthusiastic
intern and blame it all on "The Man." The result? The number
1 grossing film in America, second only to Bringing Down the House.
In a televised debate with the republican candidate, Mays delivers a biting
critique of America's foreign policy, noting that his opponent continually
states "God bless AmericaÉ and no one else." According to Mays,
America needs to start saying "God bless America and everyone else."
The film's ending may surprise you, but don't let it fool you: it's the
same ol' Coca-Cola, only with new packaging.