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Down To Earth Review


Terrible
There are times when a remake feels more like a ripoff. The Chris Rock comedy Down to Earth is a perfect example. Based on... no, xeroxed from 1978's Heaven Can Wait, it's a string of dull fish-out-of-water scenes held together by someone else's script.

The "someone else", in this case, are Elaine May and Warren Beatty, screenwriters of that earlier romantic comedy, which itself was a remake of 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan. But Beatty and May crafted a fresh story with a modern update and some sex appeal, while paying homage to the old version. Down to Earth is just a much weaker version of the same movie.

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Pootie Tang Review


Unbearable
After a hard, busy day, I'm sitting in the movie theater waiting for the projectionist to start Pootie Tang. I become relaxed, comfortable, with a notepad in one hand and a pencil in the other. The lights dim. The movie starts. But the image is out of focus, then it goes black. The house lights shine brightly. The theater is experiencing technical difficulties. This is a warning from God: "Run for your life while you still have the chance," screams a little voice in my head. Then the lights dim once again, and the movie restarts. I regret not dashing for the door.

I cannot remember any other movie without subtitles that creates a language for its characters, but never teaches it to the audience. The main character in Pootie Tang utters phrases like "I'm gonna sine your pitty on the runny kine" and "Sipi-tai!" But what does that mean? Not that it matters -- you won't even try to follow this hopeless, incoherent story. Instead I wondered about the cologne on the man next to me, if that lovely cashier was wearing a wig, and what I needed at the store later that night. Anything to clear my mind from the painful occurrences transpiring on screen.

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Head of State Review


OK
There's a chance Al Gore might have wrestled the presidency from George W. Bush in 2000 if he could've mustered 1/100th of the charisma and common sense Chris Rock displays as politician-for-the-people Mays Gilliam in Head of State. An alderman serving the toughest neighborhood in Washington, D.C., Gilliam is selected by an unidentified liberal party to run for president when their candidate dies in a plane crash. The political pundits know Gilliam's chances are slim, but they hope he'll attract minority support so their frontrunner (a well-cast James Rebhorn) can cruise to victory in 2008.

Once on the campaign trail, though, Gilliam discovers that he's in tune with the people and ready to be the country's next leader. Encouraged by his brother (Bernie Mac) to speak his mind, Gilliam climbs the public opinion polls, courts a headstrong hottie from his 'hood (Tamala Jones), and puts a scare into his opponent - the incumbent Vice President (Nick Searcy) who keeps reminding us he's "a war hero and Sharon Stone's cousin."

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