Plot: What’s it about?
Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther) has always had a way with people, as the ladies love him, the kids look up to him, and it seems like everyone wants to be his friend. The criminals in town have no love for Pootie however, as he always take off his belt and lays down the smack on them, to keep his town clean as a whistle. He has become an icon in several realms, from his music career to his movies to his public service announcements to his battles against crime, all of which seem to get more expansive with time. Although lots of people have recorder public service announcements, Corporate American has never been concerned, but now that Pootie has started a PSA campaign, the kids are all ears and corporate profits have nosedived. As a result, corporate mogul Dick Lecter (Robert Vaughn) has demanded Pootie’s influence be altered, so that he can pitch his products and have the kids back on track, along with the profits. Of course, Pootie refuses and even whips up Lecter’s right hand man, but as always, Lecter has a plan in mind. Can Pootie somehow overcome the corporate forces, even when they attack his sole weakness?
A throwback to the old blaxploitation pictures with some new twists, Pootie Tang is a fun, well made movie in most respects. I don’t mean to say this is an award level picture, but for what it tries to be, it delivers on most fronts. As this produced by and features Chris Rock, it has his fingerprints all over the place, to be sure. But don’t expect this to be a Rock film, as that isn’t the case and while he does have multiple roles, most are smaller ones. It does have his kind of style however, complete with outlandish verbal gags and of course, a unique take on the hood and the folks that live within that realm. The jokes work most of the time, but in a few cases, seem dated and stale, which is not good in a comedic film. I don’t think this movie will appeal to everyone, but fans of blaxploitation should pick up on more stuff than others, so they’ll want to check it out. I wish I could recommend this one without hesitation, but as Paramount has stiffed us with a bare bones disc, I think a rental should suffice for those interested.
His character speaks in a language no one can understand, but Lance Crouther still manages to be hilarious as Pootie Tang here. Of course, the language barrier is used for constant comic value, so perhaps he works the material better than we think. I was kind of surprised to see the role given to him for the feature film, but his ties with Rock must have paid off and in truth, I don’t think anyone else should have been considered. His inexperience is evident at times, but he seems pretty comfortable within the role, so it isn’t too much of an issue. You can also see Crouther in films such as Class Act, CB4, and Fear of a Black Hat, as well as his sketch work on The Chris Rock Show, where this premise was taken from, of course. The cast also includes Chris Rock (Down to Earth, Osmosis Jones), Robert Vaughn (BASEketball, Superman III), J.B. Smoove (Tomorrow Night), and Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde, American Pie).
Video: How does it look?
Pootie Tang is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Although Paramount has done more than solid work here, some flaws are present and as such, I am forced to knock the score a shade. The print looks clean in terms of marks and such, but there’s too much grain in most scenes, given that this film was released to theaters and home video in 2001. The grain isn’t excessive per se, but it is noticeable a lot of the time and doesn’t seem to be part of the visual scheme, so I was a little let down there. The other elements seem in order however, with bright colors, natural flesh tones, and well balanced black levels. Aside from the grain, this is a terrific transfer and even as it stands, it is an above average treatment.
Audio: How does it sound?
As expected, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option has some presence, but remains bolstered in the front channels. This is not a problem however, as this is a dialogue driven comedy and as such, requires little in terms of dynamic presence. The musical soundtrack chimes in and keeps the surrounds active, as well as letting the bass kick in at times. The other sound effects are usually in the front, as they should be, but when they move to the rears, it is with good reason and never seems gimmicky. The dialogue is crisp and always well balanced also, so while this is no reference level track, it handles the material well enough. This disc also includes optional English subtitles, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a 702 music video, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.