Published Apr 01, 2003Hot on the heels of Bringin' Down the House comes Head of State, yet another underachieving, white-people-are-so-lame comedy. Despite the brilliant pairing of the original bad boy of Comedy Chris Rock with original king of comedy Bernie Mac, the duo's potential is never fully realised in Rock's directorial debut.
Rock is Alderman Mays Gilliam, the pawn chosen by the Democrats to run in, and lose, the U.S. presidential race. Mac, who plays the role of Mays' older brother and running mate Mitch, reliably shoulders much of the film's weight, unlike the rest of the paper-thin supporting cast.
As one might expect, the film's humour closely resembles Rock's stand-up material, from the shockingly hilarious (Mays envisions his first act as president to be his assassination) to the downright absurd (recurring appearances by Nate Dogg as a musical narrator and comedian Tracy Morgan as the "Meat Man").
Not surprisingly, Rock is at his best when he assumes his loud-mouthed, irreverent stage persona during a speech from the pulpit halfway through the film. Rock suddenly comes alive with passion, only to fade just as quickly into bland, listless dialogue. Indeed, there are just as many misses as there are hits, including a horribly clichéd scene of conservative white folks dancing to Nelly's "Hot in Herre."
Although there are plenty of opportunities for political satire, Head of State amazingly fails to yield any sort of meaningful commentary on U.S. politics. It may look like Bulworth, but its moral message seems constrained to "politicians should tell the truth." Unless, of course, you count the implicit conclusion, "good comedians don't necessarily make good directors." (Dreamworks)