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POOTIE TANG

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Lance Crouther, Jennifer Coolidge, Wanda Sykes, Robert Vaughn, Chris Rock
Director: Louis C.K.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: Theatrical Trailer, Music Video
Length: 81 Minutes
Release Date: November 27, 2001

“Yo, Bad Bitty, how you be?”

“I’m bad, Dirty D. You still dirty, I can see.”

Film **

One of the strangest feelings in the world is watching a movie released to the public that doesn’t feel quite finished, and that’s the main reaction I remember garnering from watching Pootie Tang. As short as the movie is, it simply feels as if the filmmakers didn’t think of any other option but to release an 80 minute sketch comedy and pray that audiences would accept it. The movie crashed and burned hard in theaters. It’s too bad, because the movie does contain a number of laughs in certain sections. Even though this is clearly a movie that is not to be taken seriously by any means, any comedy, no matter how loony or un-serious, still needs some kind of arch or formula to work, and that’s what Pootie Tang lacks strongly.

The world of Pootie Tang began as a little sketch on HBO’s wonderfully hysterical Chris Rock Show. Rock himself is credited as one of the screenwriters of the movie, and in addition has multiple roles in the movie. As sharp as Rock is in his stand up comedy, you’d think he would add a bit more bite to this lame duck. Pootie’s caricature is that of a slick urban jive talkin’ crime fighter. In the movie he’s presented in the same mode, armed with a mean whippin’ belt as his weapon of defense and crusading to rid the inner city of drugs, red meat, booze and cigarettes, which are all made available to kids thanks to Lecter Corp., which is run by the ruthless Dick Lecter (Robert Vaughn). Lecter devises a scheme to brainwash Pootie into becoming exclusive property of his organization. Suddenly, Pootie finds himself powerless against Lecter, as the villain as confiscated his belt.

There are bits in the movie that did make me laugh, such as the early scene where Pootie takes on a drug gang by using his hair to dodge bullets, and whacking thugs with his belt, which is shot in a funny stylized way. Another hilarious bit comes when Pootie, a celebrity of many sorts, goes into a studio to record a new song, which has no title and contains absolutely no beat or words, and yet people can’t resist to dance to it. It’s one of those jokes that can’t really be described, but just needs to be seen.

Funny moments do present themselves every so often in Pootie Tang, but the movie needed a whole lot more in terms of content. I seriously think that no single viewer will watch this movie and ponder for at least one minute where the missing footage of the movie is, and why, if there was in fact such footage, did it not make the final cut?

Video ***

An overall acceptable anamorphic transfer from Paramount. Picture quality for the most part is clear and crisp, and complete with vibrant colors that render very well. There were, I recall, a number of times when the image came off too bright and soft, but other than that, a pretty grand presentation.

Audio ***

The same level of credit goes to the audio department, as well. The 5.1 presentation offers a good enough sound mix for a comedy, where in which the sound quality kicks in when the film gears into action mode. The movie frequently contains upbeat hip hop music, which also picks up tremendously well. A well rendered audio job from Paramount.

Features *1/2

Just a trailer and a music video for the song ‘Pootie Tangin’ by 702.

Summary:

Pootie Tang is a questionable release because the way the finished film feels, which is that of a movie that was pretty much uncompleted, but it is good for a couple of big laughs.