Chris Rock has essentially written and directed a film based on one of his own standup routines, and the result is as hilarious as we'd expect. It's also a clever skewering of show business, from the difficulty of changing a public image to the never-ending intrusion of the press. But while the film is consistently smart and funny, it's also a bit of an inside joke, taking on an industry that's so absurd that ridiculing it might be too easy.
Rock plays Andre Allen, a former comic who found international fame playing a furry police officer in three Hammy The Bear movies. But now he wants some respect as an actor, so he has produced a serious period drama called Uprize!, about the 18th century Haitian revolution. On the day of the film's gala premiere, Andre grants an interview to New York Times journalist Chelsea (Rosario Dawson), who follows him around town as he runs errands both promoting the film and preparing for his heavily publicised wedding to reality TV star Erica (Gabrielle Union). Against his better judgement, he begins to drop his guard with Chelsea, introducing her to members of his family and inviting her to his bachelor party, which is being staged for Erica's show.
The film's one false note is the whiff of a romantic-comedy as Andre and Chelsea begin to open up to each other. Fortunately, Rock allows this to merely simmer in the background as he gets on with his wicked commentary about life in the entertainment industry. The dialogue is packed with pithy observations, sarcastic gags and knowing jabs that could only come from someone who has lived (and survived) this crazy lifestyle. Even more interesting are the darker undercurrents. Andre is a recovering alcoholic who isn't sure he can still be funny now that he's sober.
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