The film breathes exhilarating life into its tired premise, thanks to some dazzling action choreography, stylish visuals and–most importantly–a vintage anti-hero performance from Keanu Reeves.
My problem with Chris Rock (who belongs with Dane Cook and Carlos Mencia in the category of Comics I Don't Think are Funny) is that he too often fails to base his shtick on accurate or meaningful observations. It's just dumb shtick, and he'll say anything (no matter how pointless) to get a laugh. It's all about his hacky delivery rhythms -- Catskills via Brooklyn. What he says hardly matters as long as he sounds like he's being funny. He could be speaking Ancient Greek and he hits you so hard you'd still know exactly where you're supposed to laugh, whether it's funny or not.
Take the following, from his "SNL" appearance to promote his already-vanished movie, "I Think I Love My Wife." Most of his jokes are older than John McCain (and in the '80s these same jokes were told about Reagan and in the '90s about Bob Dole). His stuff about Giuliani being good in a crisis is fine, but the pit bull analogy is stretched to the point of desperation.
Then Rock sets up the race for the Democratic nomination: "Everybody's saying the same thing: Hillary or Obama? A black man or a white woman? It's so hard to make up my mind! Like it's a suffering contest. And even if it was, how can you compare the suffering of a white woman to the suffering of a black man?" I don't know, Chris. How can you? And who's making the comparison? Well, Rock is: "I mean, white women burned their bras. Black men were burned alive!" Lame set-up, phony-outrageous non-sequitur punchline. That's Rock in a nutshell. (This might have been funny, in a Colbert-esque way, if Rock had been in character as Nat X. Does Rock know the difference? If not, what's the point? Is anybody saying Hillary is more oppressed than Obama? It might have worked if Rock had cited an example that he could riff on.)
The line about nobody hating white women as much as white women do is pretty good. Women are certainly Hillary's main problem. And the crack about how blacks would elect Halle Berry for half a term was kind of clever, but the audience was still laughing at the idea that black voters would elect OJ.
I'd love to know what would happen if someone else -- say, Joseph Biden or Hillary or Obama -- were to toss off this line: "Is America ready for a black president? I say: Why not? We just had a retarded one!" Hey, folks: What the hell -- even black politicians are better than retarded ones, right? I wish I could say that Rock is an articulate comedian. Or an insightful one. Or a funny one. But I don't think he is. Does anyone want to explain if/why they think this monologue is funny?
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
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