Head of State Movie Review
- Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
- Updated Apr 16, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (language, sexuality, drug references)
Release Date: March 28, 2003
Actors: Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Robin Givens, Dylan Baker, Tamala Jones, Lynn Whitfield, Tracy Morgan
Director: Chris Rock
Special Notes: Robin Givens is Mike Tyson's old girlfriend and plays a gold-digging girlfriend of Mays Gilliam (Rock) who becomes verbally and physically abusive to him.
Plot: Rock stars as Mays Gilliam, a Washington D.C. neighborhood Alderman, who loses his job, his office and his girlfriend all in one day. After the untimely death of the party front-runner, Gilliam is plucked from obscurity and shaped and molded to be the party nominee because his political party thinks he'll lose (thus securing a white candidate's quest for Presidency in the next election). Bernie Mac stars as Gilliam's older brother Mitch, who becomes his Vice Presidential running mate, Robin Givens is the ex-girlfriend who dumped Gilliam, but who has a sudden change of heart when she sees a chance at becoming First Lady, Dylan Baker plays Gilliam's campaign manager; Tamala Jones is Lisa, the woman who believes in Gilliam, and Lynn Whitfield stars as Gilliam's reluctant advisor.
Good: This is a predictable black comedy that many may find funny because it makes fun of the black culture landing in the White House and how different it is from the white culture. Instead of the story celebrating the differences, the running joke seems to be, "What would our country be like if a black man was appointed president?" Most of the scenes are catered to that premise and an abundance of one-liners, white/black jokes and situations play up the idea. Rock does a decent enough job (especially in his scenes with Bernie Mac) but never rises to the "classy" status with his whiny voice, humongous teeth and insecure attitude. Try as I might, I just can't see him in leading man status or being taken seriously. He plays a sympathetic man to the working class, the poor love him, and he happens to be looking for true love no matter what the polls say about him.
Bad: 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. From the ridiculous premise that has Rock thrust into a situation where he's basically "set up" to be president (but he doesn't realize it and all the while he tries to get elected honestly so he can do a good job), to the blatant digs and jokes made about the black and white culture, it's abundantly clear that the running gag of the movie is not about an everyday man becoming president for the people, as it is about how different tradition and decorum would be if a black man was in office. The movie drives home the point about how a black man would change the traditional values of Washington but it does so by exploiting the cultural differences and making fun of the racial issues. Instead of being funny, it ultimately works against the story. If I was Afro-American, I would be embarrassed by the overriding message in this movie. I'm sure there are many in the black community who will cringe at seeing another demoralizing satire instead of a smart, witty and thought-provoking story. This story is silly and downright stupid in some parts. Not once is there a character with grace, charm, wit or intelligence, and the biggest drawback for the intelligence factor is the abundance of bad language. The plot takes every cliché and uses every stereotype you'd expect: pictures of white presidents come down and black basketball players go up, Rock's girlfriend works in a convenience store, white people try to dance like black people, white politicians try to use black jargon and street slang, a white presidential candidate has a Texas accent and mutters "God Bless America and no place else." And in one scene, Rock petitions pimps and whores to vote for him. All I can say is, thank God this is just a movie! However, Al Sharpton is getting ready to run for President so perhaps this art-imitating-life is closer to the truth than we think.
Bottom Line: 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.