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Pootie Tang

Starring Lance Crouther,Jennifer Coolidge,Wanda Sykes with Robert Vaughn and Chris Rock
Written and Directed by Louis C.K.

IN SHORT: Instantly forgettable except for the moments you recognized ripped from teevee shows of the past. [Rated PG-13 for sex-related material, language and drug content. 77 minutes]

If you are going to "find inspiration" in the comics we all grew up with, you might as well steal from the best, which is this boy's impression of Pootie Tang, a movie inspired by characters created for HBO's The Chris Rock Show.

From the stone canyons of Chicago to the prairie fields of Greenville, there is enough iconography at wok here that someone could write a companion book to explain all the lifts from great cartoons of the past. We're not saying Pootie Tang is a flat out rip. It's more like a deluge of gags all of which, in their own way, pay tribute to fun things like shotgun marriages, the Kung Fu television show and DC comics alongside nods to both Austin Powers flicks. Not to mention screwing with stereotype street whores, pimps and gangsters; their language manner and dress. That's the essence of teevee sketch comedy. You find something you like and then parody it up the wazoo. Most of the time that means that a long form project won't translate to the big screen. Sometimes, and this is a stretch of a sometimes, the writers can come up with more than enough sketches -- very short ones at that -- to keep everything moving at such a break neck pace that you will find moments of enjoyment between the moments of confusion.

It all starts with Pootie (Lance Crouther), who speaks a language only NBC mastermind Bob Costas seems to understand. We should point out that speaking gibberish has been a staple of sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live for a long while. Usually it comes with an exaggerated accent. Not here.

Pootie's mom died young, leaving the boy under the strict disciplinary eye of dad (Chris Rock), who had no qualms about whipping off his "superpowered" belt to deliver a well placed zap. As Pootie grew into manhood -- he lost dad due to a tragedy which we'll not go into here -- he mastered the belt and found fame as a musician / superhero / and spokesperson to all the kidlets needing care and guidance. He cuts rap records with not a sound on 'em, and they become big hits. He defeats evil masterminds like drug lord Dirty Dee (Reg E. Cathey) who refuses to bathe. He keeps himself pure even though both ho's and good girls throw themselves at him. Dad warned him about the power sapping abilities that women possess. Thus, Pootie is the moral power of his community and modest as all heck.

Which pisses off Dick Lecter (Robert Vaughn) real bad. Lecter runs the streets. He sells the whisky, dilutes the milk, uses crap beef in his fast food "bad burgers" and the public service announcements being made by Pootie are killing his business. The only remedy? Steal Pootie's belt, the source of his power, and trick and/or connive and/or seduce him into selling away all the rights to his name and likeness. To do that, first Lecter must have the belt. And only a true ho' (Jennifer Coolidge) can steal the belt, something Lecter just happens to have at his disposal.

Don't think for a second we're taking any of this seriously, folks. We're just glad that writer/director Louis C.K. saw fit to have a narrator and handy screen titles pop up at every opportune moment to clue in all the dumb white bread reviewers as to who and what was when and where. And how it all works. Pretty ingenious, eh?

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Pootie Tang, he would have paid . . .


It's a rental for this old fart, were I still in the habit of lighting up on a Saturday night. For the kidlets that watch Chris Rock on HBO and may be more familiar with the characters, it's a $5 dateflick. There's enough flat out dumb stuff here (dumb to me usually means funny to them) that, since they'll all be ripped before going into the theater anyhow, a pleasant time is guaranteed for most.

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