|Paramount Pictures; PG-13; 81 minutes|
|Cast:||Lance Crouther, JB Smoove, Jennifer Coolidge|
The character of Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther) offered one of The Chris Rock Show's most magical moments. Like his name, Pootie spoke in a patois of Ebonics, pig Latin, nonsense that might have been obscene if it were comprehensible. Part of the gag was that Rock and others understood what the rapper/movie star was saying. Pootie Tang marks his big-screen debut. Usually skit characters loose definition when transferred into full-length film comedies, but this parody stays sharp. The script steps inside black pop with a witty grin, and Crouther, Rock, and the comic crew live up to it.
Pootie's jive unintelligibility and lack of normal pizzazz work amazingly well against the grain of his superstar popularity (provided, in part, by a magical martial arts belt bestowed upon him by his father, played by Chris Rock). Pootie encourages kids to stay away from alcohol, cigarettes, and fast food, which leads to corporate theft of his mojo accessory.
Not only is the rampant commercialization of hip-hop and street culture a primary target, but the movie has its own satirical logic that makes it revolutionary, rather than a simple reactionary parody. Pootie's hit song, for example, is a few minutes of silence—the man is so amazing he doesn't need to sing; he doesn't even need music. And dancing crowds love it. The moment mashes up John Cage's high-art conceptualism with the mysterious power of pop. Pootie Tang sidesteps reality to offer accurate jabs at the cultural flab.