Head of State
- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Jan
The box office flourished this week with the arrival of comedian Chris Rock's directorial debut,
Religious press film critics would like to impeach Rock and Mac on charges of bad taste and offensive, race-oriented comedy.
Phil Boatwright (Movie Reporter) says, "Rock is a funny guy, and there are several nice moments, but the uneven comic success rate and a naïve view of politics is mixed with obscenity and some crudity." He urges readers, "Write to black celebrities and tell them you are tired of the offensive material coming from their mouths in nearly every film they appear in. For all my Caucasian subscribers, write the same letter to everyone else in Hollywood!"
Gerri Pare (Catholic News Service) says, "It's a schizophrenic movie, sometimes wistfully sweet-natured, other times veering towards vulgarity. Rock milks the populist theme for laughs and has comedic presence before the camera, but the dialogue and situations are mediocre and the movie sags by its midpoint. Its reliance on political stereotypes and tired jabs at race relations consign it to also-ran status."
Holly McClure (Crosswalk) says, "This is one of those comedies that might have been funnier had it been released at a different time. But when our nation is looking to our president for wartime leadership and wisdom, it seems almost disrespectful and sort of a slap-in-the-face to the presidency to have a movie that mocks the whole system." She concludes, "Save your money and your time! And while you're at it, thank God for the man we have in office who's proven to be a great Head of State in these rough times."
Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) writes, "The film pits Mays's good deeds, candor and compassion against the crass materialism, duplicity and self-centeredness of entrenched D.C. types. On that level, I have no misgivings. It's when it strays into race-specific humor (something it does a lot) that this Chris Rock vanity piece goes wrong."
Mainstream critics were generally easier on Rock's debut effort. Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly) finds Rock's effort praiseworthy. "Rock, one of the most astute comic talents working today, revels in impassioned commentary about the state of American politics and race relations, all imparted with a grin [and] a twinkle … His movie is as blithe and fearless in talking about race as
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) is somewhat pleased as well. "