Pootie Tang

[Note: I wrote this review while employed at Paramount Pictures.]

Clocking in at just over 70 minutes, this movie has "studio favor" written all over it: My employer Paramount, so keen on making the sure-fire hit Down to Earth with Chris Rock, seems to have made a deal with him: if he agreed to star in their big comedy, they would let him produce his own low-budget farce, made by and starring his buddies from The Chris Rock Show (including Lance Crouther in the title role). Well, Down to Earth wasn't a sure-fire hit, so Paramount put little effort into marketing Pootie Tang – they even limited their standard employee screenings to just 3 shows in the crummy small theater on the lot (whereas Tomb Raider played at our marvelous big theater throughout its opening weekend). Talk about a vote of no confidence.

Pootie Tang itself is a blaxploitation spoof – sort of – about a world-famous singer/actor/martial artist/ladies man (the titular Pootie) whose shtick is that he speaks in a completely incomprehensible form of Ebonics, saying things like "Wadda tay" and "Seppa tie" over and over. Which might have been funny if he didn't limit his babblings to the same 4 or 5 phrases. The joke gets old fast. Meanwhile, a big bad businessman (Robert Vaughn, saying "thanks for the paycheck") wants to thwart Pootie's do-gooding, and blah blah blah.

It's not as bad as it could be – surely it's no worse than Robert Townsend's overrated Hollywood Shuffle – and there are a few amusing bits. Crouther himself is quite likable, but Rock, who plays several supporting roles, is not funny and not a good actor. I don't know what people see in him. Perhaps Paramount is now wondering the same thing.