Head Of State

on March 28, 2003 by Tim Cogshell
“Head of State” roams between broad comedy and satire. The satirical parts are sharp and funny while the broad comedy is banal and not funny. It makes for an insanely uneven movie. Chris Rock plays Mays Gilliam, a Washington D.C. Alderman. When the democratic presidential nominee is killed on the eve of the election, the party drafts Mays as the new candidate. He's running against the current vice president (Nick Searcy, "One Hour Photo"), a war hero whose cousin is Sharon Stone and whose slogan is, "God Bless America... and no one else." Mays is being set up to lose, though he doesn't seem to know it, which is sad. These are the elements of the uninteresting broad comedy that juxtaposes urban black culture against the demonstrably white culture of presidential politics.

Along the campaign trail, Mays has his ups and downs, and names his bail bondsman brother, Mitch (Bernie Mac of “Ocean's 11”), as his running mate. He has a crazy stalker ex-girlfriend (Robin Givens in a burlesque performance) and a professional "super-ho" on his campaign team to take care of any urges. And it goes on like this throughout the movie.

Co-star Bernie Mac is consistently funny and adds a saucy edge to "Head of State" when he's not preaching, while Rock, a gifted comic whose HBO talk show was refreshing, is stilted and predictable. When he's not doing long stand-up bits, he's google-eyeing and otherwise acting badly. It's vexing, given Rock's exceptional non-starring performances in indie films ranging from “New Jack City” to “Nurse Betty.” Starring roles in studio films (“Down to Earth,” “Bad Company”) do no suit his talents, which are, nevertheless, considerable. Starring Chris Rock and Bernie Mac. Directed by Chris Rock. Written by Chris Rock & Ali LeRoi. Produced by Ali LeRoi, Chris Rock and Michael Rotenberg. A DreamWorks release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language, some sexuality and drug references. Running time: 95 min

Tags: Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Directed by Chris Rock, Written by Chris Rock, Ali LeRoi, Produced by Ali LeRoi, Michael Rotenberg, A DreamWorks release, Comedy, bondsman, predictable, politics, war, hero

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