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HEAD OF STATE

A black loser is handpicked to run for the U.S. Presidency by a white politician who, for his own sneaky reasons, does not want the oddball candidate to win.


CAST: Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Dylan Baker, Nick Searcy, Lynn Whitfield, Robin Givens, Tamala Jones, James Rebhorn, Keith David

DIRECTOR: Chris Rock

"If Chris Rock ever hires an ace director and screenwriter to shepherd him on his quest toward comedic immortality, he will be a force to reckon with. Until then, though, he's a would-be auteur hoisted on the petard of either aesthetic indifference or sheer inability. No matter how sharp his tongue and honed his delivery, the comic makes for one grievously bad director and almost as regrettable a leading man…Rock can't set up a decent-looking shot, and he doesn't care about niceties such as character development and all that narrative downtime in between jokes. But he nonetheless wrings biting humor from serious issues with the sort of ferocity that made Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce men of respect as well as comedy." --Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"‘Head of State’ is the most hilarious pure comedy since the wheels-up landing of ‘Airplane!’ in 1980. What that film did to the Irwin Allen disaster epic of the '70s, ‘Head of State’ does to hip-hop, blaxploitation, the two-party system and Frank Capra. It couldn't have arrived at a better time. And not just for its writer-director.The often appallingly funny Rock presents a problem for people of all colors because he makes you wonder, while you're holding your sides, whether you should be laughing at him at all. That said, he's probably the funniest man in America…it's as feel-good a movie as has been released all year." --John Anderson, Newsday

"For the most part, the picture's timidity, combined with haphazard plotting and uninspired direction, just makes a mess of Mays's [Rock’s] character. He seems to be a different person in every scene, with no consistent motive and no capacity to undergo any interesting dramatic change. Nor are the satiric possibilities of the film's premise addressed, and the result is a political comedy that refuses to address a single real political topic." --A. O. Scott, The New York Times

"As a first-time director working from a well-made script he cowrote with longtime creative partner Ali LeRoi, the comedian has hit on a fleet, slightly unfinished-looking, and invitingly improv-ish personal cinematic style…There's a lot of exuberant, nutty, try-it-and-move-on stuff spread around…The rhythms are all over the place in ‘Head of State,’ and not all of them are steady; Rock is most prone to stumbling when he tries to shoehorn stand-alone, stand-up lines into the action… More valuably, though, Rock, one of the most astute comic talents working today, revels in impassioned commentary about the state of American politics and race relations, all imparted with a grin, a twinkle, and a reliable crap detector: His movie is as blithe and fearless in talking about race as ‘Bringing Down the House’ is nervous and coy." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"It's a great disappointment. And he has no one to blame but himself, since he co-wrote the screenplay (with partner Ali LeRoi) and also makes an indifferent debut as a director. Few can touch Rock in the arena of standup comedy. But the formal requirements of a three-act screenplay have leached much of the humor from the central gag, that an African-American candidate for the highest office in the land can bring a bit of flava to the stuffy, mostly white world of politics… the movie is funniest when it bursts crazily out of left field and leaves the conventional script behind." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"The difference between ‘Head of State’ and a good comedy is like the difference between Chris Rock and a real actor…Rock lacks the on-screen stature to pull off this larger-than-life act. It's telling that he fades whenever he shares the screen with Bernie Mac, who plays Mays' brother and running mate, Mitch. Mac, in his too-few scenes, demonstrates the difference between a movie actor and a pretender. He's got a presence that's undeniable, drawing you into his blazing eyes and dominating the screen with his hulking build." --Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

"‘Head of State’ is an imperfect movie, but not a boring one and not lacking in intelligence. What it does wrong is hard to miss, but what it does right is hard to find: it makes an angry and fairly timely comic attack on an electoral system where candidates don't say what they really think but simply repeat safe centrist banalities…Chris Rock is a smart, fast-talking comedian with an edge; I keep wondering when the academy will figure out he could host the Oscars." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times