Pootie Tang

on June 29, 2001 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
   Erstwhile superhero Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther) is a combination of crime fighter, hip-hop musician, lover, force for good and cobbler. The last designation isn't relevant to the film but, tellingly, it's indicative of the movie's general lack of imagination.

   Based on a sketch from The Chris Rock Show, "Pootie Tang" has some of Rock's smart sensibilities embedded within it. The film attacks rap stars for selling out and disappointing their fans while reminding us that their anti-social messages aren't the real problem in a world run by corporations who value profits above all. But "Pootie Tang" doesn't really build on its politically subversive message. It's content to stay at the level of puerile humor.

   The plot--what there is of it--concerns the attempt by the rapacious Dick Lecter (Robert Vaughn)--the use of the last name of Hannibal the Cannibal is no coincidence--to force Pootie Tang to stop endorsing healthy products for children, like milk and vegetables, in favor of his corporation's cigarette, malt liquor and hamburger products. With the aid of his sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Coolidge), Lecter manages to snag Pootie's magical belt, rendering him powerless. It's up to Pootie's pals top help him get back on track.

   "Pootie Tang" isn't badly made and--except for Chris Rock, who overacts in all of his three cameos--is well-acted, but it doesn't leave much of an impression. The jokes spoofing rap videos and the fashion world aren't all that sharp, and Pootie, whose unintelligible English (his new movie is called "Sine Your Pitty on the Runny Kine") is nevertheless understood by everyone, is a character who wears thin quickly. Starring Lance Crouther, Wanda Sykes, Chris Rock and Jennifer Coolidge. Directed and written by Louis C.K. Produced by Dave Becky, Ali Leroi, Cotty Chubb, David Gale and Michael Rotenberg. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for sex-related material, language and drug content. Running time: 81 min

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