I could have easily picked the 1999 dark comedy Election, Alexander Payne’s fantastic film about dirty politics and awful people all set in a high school (it’s certainly the better movie), but instead I chose to go with this mostly ignored and underrated little gem from Chris Rock.
First of all my choice to pick Head Of State, about the first black president to run for office, has nothing to do with the fact that we are currently in the midst of an Obama reelection–it really isn’t. Instead, it’s to bring attention to a movie that deserves a little more of it. Head Of State is a mess of a movie; at times it hits all the right notes and at other times it’s eye-roll inducing and sloppily put together, but when it hits it hits hard. The social commentary, the parody of political campaign life, Robin Givens being crazy, any scene with the late great Bernie Mac plus random musical segments by the late Nate Dogg, this movie is right up my damn alley. Ultimately that’s what saves it from being another awful Chris Rock film like Down To Earth or Death At A Funeral.
There’s plenty of it that’s egregious–usually I automatically hate any movie that has a scene where old white people dance to rap and use slang–which is what keeps me from calling it a successful movie. What I will say is that it’s a competent film that takes its mess and finds the diamonds strewn about, plus how do you hate a movie where Tracy Morgan plays a character titled “meat man”.