Paramount Studios presents
Pootie Tang (2001)
"Pootie Tang whip your butt so hard you can write it off of your taxes."- Unnamed character (Chris Rock)
Stars: Lance Crouther, Jennifer Coolidge, Wanda Sykes
Other Stars: Robert Vaughn, Chris Rock
Director: Louis C.K.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex related material, language, and drug content
Run Time: 01h:21m:10s
Release Date: 2001-11-27
DVD ReviewBefore its release as a full-length feature film (though seventy minutes is hardly full-length), Pootie Tang began life as a recurring skit on HBO's The Chris Rock Show. In small five minute doses, Pootie Tang was funny, offering a comedic look at a crime-fighter with the look and feel 1970s-era blaxploitation films. As is often the case, what works as five minute skit often fails when adapted for a feature film (i.e. The Ladies' Man), leaving Pootie Tang as a silly, disjointed wreck. Ah, if only Pootie Tang were as funny as its title.
When he is not busy as a musical superstar, movie star, or ladies' man, Pootie Tang is a crime-fighting savior for all of the people on earth. Speaking in an incomprehensible language (more on that later) and adorning himself with outfits that would make a '70s pimp proud, Pootie Tang is an American legend. When an evil corporation irks him with their dispensing of malt liquor, cigarettes, and fast food to young children, he must fight back and make the streets safe from CEO Dick Lecter (Vaughn). Pootie is in the process of defeating the corporation when Lecter's aide steals his magical belt, which leaves Pootie weak, as it was his source of power. Through flashbacks we learn that Pootie was given the belt by his father (Rock) after he was mauled to death by a gorilla at a steel factory, and that without the belt he will fail to make things safe for kids. But with the aid of a streetwalker named Biggie Shorty (Sykes), Pootie regains his strength and is ready to make the world a safe place again.
Large portions of Pootie Tang seem as though they don't belong, and characters and subplots a dropped without concern. Take, for instance, scenes set in the South, where Pootie is persuaded by the local sheriff to begin dating his daughter; after several scenes that look as though things are going somewhere they are dropped so quickly that one might think a thud would be audible.
This is all too bad, as the opening moments of Pootie Tang show undeniable promise and hilarity. Scenes involving comedian Chris Rock as Pootie's late father have a sharp edge, and sight gags that include bullets ricocheting off of Pootie's pony tail, and the overnight sensation of a song by Pootie (that is nothing more than silence) are admittedly very funny.
Other bits that are intended as humor fall flat, including the undecipherable speech that Pootie spews throughout the movie. Phrases such as "Baby, I'm gonna sine your pitty on the runny kine. Sipi-tai!" are understandable to those in the film, but I found it rather annoying. A large part of likeable heroes is their ability to speak in cool, easy going tones, but in Pootie Tang it just distracts.
At the heart of the cast is Lance Crouther in the title role, and aside from the above mentioned dialect issues, his performance is enjoyable. He does a nice job of looking the part, and his body language is often a key factor in the success of the performance. Others in the cast are much less likeable, including Robert Vaughn, who is a fine actor, but his work here feels as though there is something missing to make his character memorable.
Pootie Tang is far from being a horrible movie, but with bad writing and even worse editing it isn't far off. In short form there is something about Pootie Tang that I greatly enjoy; as a film there are just too many problems to overlook.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D+
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Pootie Tang features a disappointing transfer from Paramount, whose track record for recent theatrical releases has been spectacular. Several scenes suffer from grain and slight traces of edge enhancement that distract enough to be noticeable. Colors are vibrant, as is evidenced by the reproduction of Pootie's clothes throughout the movie, and sharpness and detail are also very well done. Like the film, the transfer is equal parts average and bad.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix suffers the fate of other comedy soundtracks: a pleasing though not bombastic mix. The largely Rap and R&B songs that can be heard throughout offer a nice low end for the .1 LFE track, and the surrounds are at times pleasing in their ambient effects. Dialogue is clean and easy to interpret with little hiss and distortion, while the left and right speakers help to create a seamless front soundstage. A Dolby Surround 2.0 track is also provided, and is less active than its 5.1 counterpart in terms of low end, and creates a less enveloping feel.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
- music video for Pootie Tangin by 702
What is criminal about the extra features on Pootie Tang is the lack of TV spots seen at the time of the film's release. Featuring Chris Rock touting the film, these TV spots are light-years ahead in terms of quality than anything in the film.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsFor the curious, a rental of Pootie Tang would be a safe bet. The DVD from Paramount is a bit of a mixed bag, with a less-than-stellar video transfer, and equally disappointing audio and extras. A good but not great DVD for a bad but not horrible movie.
Kevin Clemons 2001-12-04