Head of State (2003)

Chris-Rock-Head-Of-StateThis reminded me a lot of the Robert Redford vehicle “The Candidate” which was smart, witty and funny, but the difference between the two is that ultimately, this was much dumber, vapid, very derivative, and pretends to be a political satire when it’s just another Chris Rock vehicle. In this very far-fetched fairy tale, we meet May Gilliam a small time politician for the inner city of Washington DC who works for the people despite the fact we never actually see him at any rallies, holding any conferences or talking with any other politicians and he’s still pretty poor. He claims he wants to work for the people and help the people out yet never actually makes a difference in office. Hell, there’s even a scene that mimics “Harry and Tonto” where a woman refuses to leave her building which is about to be demolished because she can’t find her cat.

Regardless there’s a goofy scene in which the writers attempt to bring humanity to the character of Mayes as he talks to her and tries to take her out of the building but it just ends up becoming ridiculous as Rock screams in his usual high-pitched shrill shriek and runs out the building with her. I’m not fond of Rock’s film vehicles; he was basically under-used in “Saturday Night Live” and it’s no wonder with his many films like “Bad Company”, “Pootie Tang”, and “Down to Earth” that were all basically lemons and not worth wasting time over. Yet again, Rock bombs out big time. When a presidential elect dies, Mays is then called in by a couple of politicians and is chosen as a new presidential candidate to run against the newest presidential heavyweight, and taking its cue from “Rocky”, Mays is only chosen to run and then be beaten in the presidential race, though he doesn’t know it. So, to find out where the plot is leading, we’re led through an array of vapid and completely recycled jokes from Rock about race, the white man, pop culture jokes that only refer to rappers and hip hop stars and the same old jokes about African American people.

Though Rock has proved to be a rather prolific African American comedian, his movie just continue to perpetuate the stereotype of African American ignorance and un-education. And as with Rock’s usual films, it’s all about a young African American fighting the big bad white man. All of his films have relative themes in which a smart and/or hip young African American man fights against the tyranny of the big bad white man, a common and very racist theme in his films. “Pootie Tang”, “Down to Earth”, “Bad Company”, and even “Dogma” showcases Rock’s characters fighting against the white man which is a society that are always evil…at least in his films. And Rock doesn’t pull any punches here; his running mate is a rather cruel, mean, and narrow minded white man who is being led by other mean scheming white men. Hell, every white character in the film are caricatures and stereotypes often portrayed as rich, stuffy, stiff, mean, evil, cruel, and often un-cool; Rock follows every word in the dictionary against them.

So, as I said, we’re led through an array of recycled pop culture jokes while somewhere in the film there’s a plot. There’s plenty of room in the film for social and political commentary regarding a black man being nominated in presidential office, and the fact that he’s from the inner city, but it’s never ever touched upon, and Rock manages to dumb down what would have been a rather intelligent film. Throughout the film, Rock is led through different countries and states to talk to voters and soften them up and even appears at a party to soften up politicians thus leading to an embarrassing scene where he begins fiddling with the record player, (surprising they don’t have a live band considering the magnitude of the event) booming hip hop which leads to an attempted comical dance number involving the white stiff party-goers as they suddenly break into dance. Enter Mitch Gilliam played by the hilarious Bernie Mac who is so blatantly under-used in the film it’s criminal.

He pops in halfway through the film without much of an introduction or reason for him to be involved in the plot, and only appears every so often go engage with dialogue and comedic scenes with Rock’s character, heaven forbid he should be funnier than he is, which he often is. Then there’s an interesting plot turn in which Mitch turns into Mays’ running mate, but it’s hardly a development once all the inadequate and irrelevant scenes have already taken place. Robin Givens has an embarrassing role as Mays’ ex-wife who dumps him at the beginning of the film and then pops in and out of the film being snatched by security, a tired and quickly cheesy gag. Mac is only given a bit role to help Rock’s lackluster role and increase the comedy of the lackluster film, but all the characters are so despicable, the jokes so tired, and script so sub-par “Head of State” enters Rocks’ growing repertoire of box-office lemons. A lackluster, vapid, and bland vehicle for Rock under the guise of a political satire. Rock is a man who continues to perpetuate stereotypes for the price of “comedy” and continues making one terrible film after the other.