Head of State

The key to a successful Chris Rock movie, is ironically the backbone of any successful Jet Li vehicle: Do not let him act. Keep him away from emotion! Avoid situations where he might be expected to carry some sort of worthwhile acting load beyond his silly grin and normal range of oddly messed up expressions! The best way to make him palatable is to construct a script in which he's given as many opportunities as possible to do stand-up. Head of State does that, but as is customary with any Chris Rock film, falls to pieces any time he's not on stage representin'.

Fortunately, Head of State doesn't take itself overly serious and starts right off with a few digs at its own poorly constructed behavior just to set the right tone. Ostensibly this is the story of a poor black inner-city Alderman, Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock) who gets roped into running as an unnamed political party's nominee for President. Head of State doesn't waste much time on the logic of that, or on the logic of anything really, intent more on just making things happen in order to get to the jokes.

What follows is a loosely connected grouping of scenes where Chris Rock gives hilarious political speeches and Head of States writers (Chris Rock and others) try to glibly insert skits involving girlfriends to bookend the speeches. When not tripping over Rock's bad acting, or his equally ponderous directing, the movie is self deprecating, and that at least makes it more palatable. There's really no pride or sense of self-worth to this soulless creation, but there are some nice laughs which keep it from being a total waste.

The real downer is the film's propensity to fall back on "white people acting black" jokes whenever Chris runs out of poignant things to say from his podium. I could have done without another bland dance number in which silly old white folk do hip-hop dances. It wasn't new when Steve Martin's Bringing Down the House did it last week, and the concept hasn't gotten any fresher since then. Unlike Bringing Down the House, Head of State's stereotypical jokes at least aren't offensive, just retreads of jokes that were much funnier when we heard them back in 1980.

I suggest that Rock give up feature film making and instead release a few of these "standup Comedy" movies that seem to have become popular with has-beens like Martin Lawrence. Unlike Lawrence, Chris is actually still funny, movies just aren't the right forum for him to be funny in.