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Head of State (2003) - Back when a Black President was Sci-Fi


By RRA - Posted on 21 January 2009

(NOTE: Been a long time RFO member, if sporadic in my postings to medication-fueled orgies. Sorry. Anyway, I'm also a film critic, and with our new American President, I figured it was opportune to review Chris Rock's HEAD OF STATE he made years back, which I wrote on monday night. Opinions, comments (good and bad, especially the ugly) are welcomed.)

 HEAD OF STATE (2003) - **1/2 out of 5

The other day, comedian Chris Rock was complaining to CNN of how hard it is to make jokes about President-Elect Barack Obama, a sentiment also shared by writers for THE DAILY SHOW and Conan O'Brien, etc. Apparently unlike our previous Commanders-In-Chief, Obama is a tough pickle to define down to a general public humorous stereotype. You know what I mean, George W. Bush the redneck imbecile, Clinton the fat man-whore, and Bush Sr. the dry long-winded wimp. Now that last one I never got the "wimp" label, for unlike those others, he did actually fight in a war, but whatever. Surely there is someone out there who can write solid gags about good rhetoric or being an egghead or (so far) not embarrased out country?

So within hours of Obama's inauguration as our 44th President, I figured it was opportune time to review a movie that star/writer/director Chris Rock had produced several years ago. Now kids, this was back when the concept of a popular-elected black President was optimistic science fiction, thus the idea itself was the whole fucking joke. HEAD OF STATE wasn't exactly a hit, but will Rock continue to recieve his monthly residual checks for STATE after that whole punchline was muted by Obama's election?

What I do think may stick around for STATE is how eeriely similar Rock's character is to our new President. I mean think about it, Rock is an Alderman in D.C., basically portrayed here as a glorified community activist, which Obama started as in Chicago. Both cities notorious for their corrupt Democratic party-machine politics, but these men seem to have played the game and succeeded without being severly tainted by the process. Both have pivotal connections to Abe Lincoln, with Lincoln a hero of Obama, and Rock making a crack about black janitors working at the Lincoln Memorial having to polish his brass balls. Both guys are unabashed liberals and were initial long-shots because they were unknown quantities, their ethnicity and also they supposedly lacked the "experience" for the Oval Office, yet ultimately prevail over the more veteran white Republican candidate in the debates and election.

The difference though is that Rock only gets his party's Presidential nomination after the candidate and his running mate both die when their planes crash into each other. I think we need more stringent guidelines against pilot drinking, don't you? A nasty white Senator (Bill Arnot) from the party decides the election is a dog, so his scheme is to draft a guaranteed loser (preferably a black), so that next time he'll be both the nominee, and win easily. Arnot has always been fucking great in movies and LAW & ORDER as the sleezy shithead, so here's a shout out to him. You rock (pun!)

Rock as a stand-up, he's always funny while giving accute social commentary, and not afraid to criticize his own people. He shits on bullshit, no matter who or what, and I always welcome his HBO specials. What I've never understood was, why is he such a lame filmmaker? He's got the smarts, but what is with his incapability to write a decent narrative or plot around his comedy? Nevermind the fact that he's a weak director, and STATE is painfully obvious. Hell I think outside of his good political jabs, STATE just isn't funny, unless Tracy Morgan talking on and on about his meat while waiting for reruns of MARTIN is hilarious to you.

I mean, MARTIN?!?! Shit Chris, pick a black sitcom at least that was good.

What also sucked was the annoying running joke of his stalking bitchy ex-girlfriend (Robin Givens) and Rock crying "Security!" Urgh.

Sub-par thematics aside, STATE is at best when Rock rambles about politics. His campaign in the beginning is as safe, non-offensive, and dull as it could be, which reminds me alot of John Kerry. If you remember, Kerry in 2004 was the liberal nominee too, but he was rather afraid to be outright about that little fact. We got so many painful Photo-Ops with Kerry pretending to be a hunter and drinking beer, and speaking always of how you should vote for him because simply he isn't Bush. The GOP successfully painted him as a classic weak-kneed flip-flopping pussy liberal, and with such a piss-poor campaign, Kerry deserved to lose.

In the dumps emotionally and in the polls, Rock gets advice from big brother and running mate Bernie Mac to quit that sillyness, and just be himself.... like Obama did. He also ran against the Bush Years, but agree with him or not, he presented an alternative vision for America, which appealed to war-weary/jobless Americans. Unlike Kerry and Bill Clinton, Obama didn't run away from the liberal label, but rather embraced it. Hell, consider that scene when Rock during the debate basically yells bullshit on his opponent Nick Searchy over the issue of guns, and asking God to bless not just America, but the whole world.

That too brings back that pivotal moment in the 2008 campaign, when John McCain announced to suspend activities to solve the failing economy, including skipping the first debate. I think his party were outright shocked when Obama instead called his bluff, planned to do the debate anyway, and famously quoted as saying: "A President has to do two things at once." Well McCain despite his pledge slinked back to the debate in time. Hey, who's the pussy now?

Now one sequence in STATE I hated when I saw it in theatres was when Rock makes his great come-back this side of Truman by airing cartoonish ads of how the KKK and Osama Bin Laden endorse Searchy. I thought it was rather ridiculous and way too far fetch to be credible, even with the dirty commercials we've gotten before. Then last year, all those viral racist propaganda of how Obama was a socialist Arab Muslim terrorist foreigner (mostly produced in the South), including recently the head of my state's Republican party producing a CD which called him "The Magical Negro." As a Tennessean, I apologize that he humiliated my state with such a stupid public spectacle that it evidently cost him the RNC Chairmanship. Seriously dude, we're still having to live with the fact that the Klan was formed in Pulaski. Don't make it worse for us ok? If we aren't careful, we'll be equal to Alabama or Mississippi soon enough.

How about also Rock and Obama both have white advisors who greatly factored into their victory (David Axelrod for Obama, Dylan Baker for Rock)? Consider too that Rock appears in a TNA wrestling match, while Obama (with Hillary Clinton and McCain) taped a short address for WWE. Obama is an avid basketball fan, and so is Rock. Sharon Stone also sponsored both.

Man, I'm getting scared with all these parallels. Hopefully, in the never-made STATE sequel, Rock didn't appoint bitter rival Arnot to Secretary of State to neutralize him as a possible future threat. Maybe too that Mac is wise to keep his damn mouth shut, or since his death in office he's replaced by little brother Dave Chappelle. I'm Vice-President bitch! Rock's archnemesis in his quest for re-election would be Tina Fey, playing a clueless Governor of a western state who knows more about hunting moose than politics, and maybe her running-mate would be former doctor-turned-southern governor Richard Jenkins, or slick charming douchebag Mormon, played by Donny Osmond.*

But I'll give Rock something over Obama, which is when Rock personally buses his original constituents on election day, which Obama and his $800 million campaign couldn't apparently find the time to do. He'll get another chance in 4 years.

Yes He Will!

*=Apologies to Donny Osmond, for I doubt that he is a douchebag in reality, or at least I hope he isn't. Apparently he's a decent guy, but I didn't know any other Mormon actor. Just so you all know, not all Mormons are shitheads like Mitt Romney. 
 

I may be wrong, but from what I've seen of Chris Rock, he's much more adept with quick one-liners and cracks than the older (?) form of developing a long narrative that tosses the audience into the punch line at the end. The former requires some timing skill and imagination, while the latter requires one to be much more of a storyteller.
----

And there's no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake.

RRA, you're language is at times a bit over the top for RFO standards.  I didn't feel like reading the whole thing to edit it, so please keep our standards and TOS in mind for future postings.  Neither do we encourage "ugly" comments, but rather civil discussions.  Thanks for understanding.

Suzi

Magus_Melchior - Pretty much.

Suzi - As said elsewhere, now I know. Anyway I didn't know that review had ugly comments per say, just more like hyperbolic jokes. Plus, as a RFO, just getting out my fustrations partly of why I quit the Neo-Con party.

Or as I call them, the New Hippies.

RRA, please do not insult Hippies by calling the neo-cons that, they are nothing like hippies. Hippies were about peace, love & understanding, & the neo-cons have none of those qualities.

 HopeForOurFuture - The Neo-Cons believe that every nation on Earth was a Democracy, then we would all be happy, in peace, and dancing by rivers of dark chocolate. I mean remember they pimped how Iraq would spread Democracy across the Middle-East like Butter & Herpes?

The classic stereotype of the hippie is naive, impractical, and unrealisitc with human behavior.

Well, doesn't all 3 describe the Neo-Cons too?

That and the whole Evangelical backdrop for these Neo-Cons, that mentality that they have to convert or convince everyont to join Buddy Christ.

 

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