The toughest thing a comedian has to go through every time he
performs is making folks laugh. You just never know what people
will be in the mood for when it comes to humor. For Chris Rock,
heís had a long run at making people laugh. His cable show, The
Chris Rock Show, is no longer on HBO, but when it was, he was
not only good, but great. As one of the writers of the show, he
knew what the people wanted to hear. His last good major film, Down
To Earth, had some funny moments. Now in his latest film, Head
of State, Chris not only stars in the film, but directed it himself,
which is where he made a mistake. It's tough to criticize your own
jokes, when you wearing the major hats of the production (Director,
Co-Producer, Co-Screenwriter, and actor). What started out with
some good jokes soon fell flat and too preachy.
Mays Gilliam (Rock) is a Washington D.C alderman who wants to support
the case for every man who comes by his office. He believes this
is a good cause but at the expense of losing his girlfriend (Givens),
who leaves him when she doesnít see a future with a poor politician.
Elsewhere, the leading presidential nominee and his running mate
are killed in a horrible plane crash. Their Democratic party believes
that all lost is when no one wants to run against the incumbent
Republic Vice-President. Senator Bill Arnot (Reborn) wants a shot
at the office, but not now. He needs a patsy to cause a stir in
the election so that he could run 4 years from now. Enter Gilliam.
After seeing him on TV rescuing a lady from a house on fire and seeing
the good response heís attracted, Arnot feels heís found his candidate.
With the help of campaign managers Debra Lassiter (Whitfield) and
Martin Geller (Baker), Mays Gilliam is convinced that the time is
right for a Black President. When Mays discovers that heís a pawn
to Arnotís agenda, he takes matters in his own hands. Selecting his brother
(Mac) as his running mate, Mays is ready to take America by storm.
There are some moments that are downright hilarious such as when
Mays gets ďghettoĒ to appeal to his people and get their support,
but the rest of the film falls flat. With the exception of Woody
Allen, there arenít that many comedian-actors who direct themselves
in a film. Co-written by his comedy show partner, Ali LeRoi, the
gags get repetitive and stale after its initial run. The dialogue
didnít seem natural and some of the characters werenít believable.
Robin Givens, who hasnít been seen on the big screen in ďa minuteĒ,
is basically useless in an unfunny way. Bernie Mac is the best thing
in the film and heís used sparingly. He brings his persona to the
screen and lights things up a bit. Itís time for Bernie to do own
his thing. What are Dylan Baker and Lynn Whitfield doing in this
picture? Even as the straight players in the film, they seem out
of place. Tracy Morgan was underutilized and he has some funny bones
that need to let out. There seems to be this growing trend that
itís okay to make fun of the African American culture such as we
have in Bringing Down the House and in this film. Head
of State is a film that starts off with potential but ultimately
leaves you wanting and waiting for more jokes.