R4 . COLOR . 91 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Watching this uneven political satire, the essential difference between black and white men suddenly dawned on me. It's not skin colour, it's not athletic ability, it's dreams.
The black man dreams of one day becoming President of the United States of America and ruling a white country that has oppressed him. It is a noble dream, with valour and much to admire.
The white man dreams of being hung like the black guys he sees in pornos. It is also a noble dream, with much potential to revolutionise the pornography business and boost white male self-esteem the world over. Of course myself, Peter North and Tommy Lee are quite happy as we are.
Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock) is an Alderman serving his local community. He probably has dreams of being President, but he's also a realist in that he knows a black man won't make the position for many years yet, so he just focuses on his job and helps out the people of his area when they need it most.
The nerds rampage when ALDI giveaway a free dvd player with every litre of milk.
When a political party needs someone to run for President, he's selected after he makes the news for saving a little old lady. What they don't tell him is that they fully expect him to lose the campaign, but in doing so gain the party some ground in the following election with minorities.
Rock, who also wrote, directed and produced, has taken a few good potshots at the campaign process, the marketing and gullibility of the public and the machinations of political parties. But for every hit, Rock has a miss, and this is the unevenness which brings down the overall tone of the film.
Can you spot the man dressed as a woman? CLUE: He's on the left.
This flatness and a weak middle is enlivened a little by the inclusion of Mays' brother, Mitch (Bernie Mack), joining him as his running mate. Mack adds back in some of the irreverence and physical humour that the story lacked and is one of the better aspects of the film.
At this moment in Australia, with the political parties going at it full tilt, Head of State will echo some of what you see and hear in reality. Labor and Liberal won't want you to associate this film with anything they're doing, but frankly, even taken with a grain of salt, it's hard not to.
How could this be any better? It couldn't really, unless you absolutely demand a little more detail in your picture, otherwise this is a widescreen-filling 1.85:1 that's fully stocked up with plenty of 16:9 enhanced goodness. There's lots of natural looking wonderfully saturated colours and a great depth to the picture with solid blacks, the night scenes and black limos perhaps not showing up the greatest detail but at least looking deep. The compression is basically spot on as well, not shown up by a single flaw, and the print it's sourced from is perfectly clear from go to whoa.
Take your pick of an English, French or German Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Naturally I picked the English, and had a quick flick across the others to hear how Rock sounded dubbed by a white German guy. Like the video component, the audio across the board is pretty much flawless, and although it doesn't have anything too noteworthy to pick out as a highlight, that can comfortably be seen as a commendation that it's all good. Little real obvious surround attack, a solid centre channel that is only muddied in the slightest by Rock's diction and a solid creation of the score, being mostly of the hip-hop variety.
This is not exactly a feature packed release, but it is unreasonable to expect a three disc set for a title that probably did bugger all box office here and maybe little better in the States.
Opening up with a commentary with Chris Rock, don't expect a cackfest of any kind, because it's nothing of the sort. He's quiet, dry and obvious, though at least sounding honest enough, without going into too much detail on anything though, so its value is perhaps a little limited.
The six deleted scenes are neither better nor worse than any scene left in the film, most probably cut for timing/redundancy, and the gallery has a selection of stills from the film that are dull as dishwater and will not having you coming back for a second look.
The cookie-cutter Making of Head of State featurette is marginally better, but at only 13 minutes it really contains just a few minutes of info about the film, the rest padded out with clips and the bleeding obvious. But then, these promo-fluff pieces are designed to sell the film, not to expand your knowledge of it or delve too deeply.
This film isn't going to make anyone change their dreams overnight. Black people will still want to be President, white people will still want to be well hung. Rock had a go at putting his vision on screen and hasn't done too badly for his first shot in the director's chair. It doesn't quite live up to the potential shown in its best scenes, but it certainly isn't too bad if you're considering a rental one night. As for buying this title to own, it definitely has limited appeal.