Paramount // 2001 // 81 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 30th, 2001
Women can't resist him. Evil can't withstand him. He's the too-hip hero with a style -- and language -- all his own!
I know very little about the origins of the character known as "Pootie Tang." I now know that he first appeared on HBO's The Chris Rock Show in a few comedy sketches. Apparently he has a following, and as such Paramount (king of making every Saturday Night Live character into a movie) and Chris Rock decided to produce a feature film about the weird jive talkin' ladies man. Starring Lance Crouther (in his first featured role) as the super sexy hero, Pootie Tang shakes its thang all about on DVD care of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Pootie Tang is a ladies' man. Pootie Tang is a man's man. Pootie Tang is a force to be reckoned with.
Pootie is a successful superhero/movie star/recording artist/role model/the list goes on and on. Pootie was born in Chicago with a very strange speech impediment. He speaks a very odd version of jive (a typical sentence: "I'm a tine cappy, my damie."). Pootie's powers come from a jewel studded belt that his daddy (Chris Rock) gave to him right before he died from wounds inflicted by a gorilla attack at a steel mill (uh...you just need to see the movie to get that joke). Pootie hangs out with his peeps, including the street walking, curb dancing Biggie Shorty (comedian Wanda Sykes) and his best buddy (and narrator of the film) Trucky (the aptly named J.B. Smoove). Protecting the citizens of the inner city, Pootie thwarts crime with his whip snapping belt and suave, sexy ways.
However, Pootie is about to go up against his greatest foe ever: corporate America. CEO Dick Lecter (Robert Vaughn, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) is a the head of LectorCorp, a million dollar industry that sells malt liquor, cigarettes, and burgers filled with MSG. Lector enlists his group of minions, including his right hand man (Dave Attell) and his sex pot girlfriend Irene (Jennifer Coolidge, Waiting For Guffman) to help put an end to Pootie's do-good ways.
Can Pootie save his city from this evil force, or will this be the end of the Tang?
All of my reviewing credentials flew out the window the minute I started laughing during Pootie Tang. At first I thought to myself, "What is this strange sensation I'm feeling?" I quickly realized that it was a case of the giggles. I was actually finding this movie FUNNY! Pootie Tang! A movie that was lambasted by critics and ignored by audiences! It was as if I could feel the effects of deevolution happening to my mind and body as I watched this silly little comedy.
But hold everything. Before you completely write me off as an utter yahoo, let me say that Pootie Tang is not a great movie. Far from it. The film often feels like it was hastily put together by some people who thought that anything and everything they threw at the screen would be hilarious. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Pootie Tang is not so much a story as it is a collection of sketches connected by an assortment of oddball people. Characters come and go like the wind. The end and beginning credits, punctuated with outtakes, dancing, and singing, seem to last roughly the length of time it took for the Titanic to sink. Some scenes seem to drag on and on, including anything involving LectorCorp and its associates. A long and embarrassing singing duet with rapper Missy Elliot solidifies the deal that this is now high-grade entertainment.
And yet, I still laughed. The scenes involving Pootie and his father had me busting up. Every time Pootie mumbled or spoke out of line, he was whipped with his daddy's belt, which seemed to come from out of nowhere. A scene involving Pootie and his friend trying to steal apples and then getting whipped by his daddy's belt (even though his daddy is not around) was priceless. Pootie Tang has the feel of a Zucker Brothers' comedy. While certainly not half as funny as their films, Pootie Tang bounces from scene to scene with the attempt to make the viewer laugh at any cost. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Everyone starring in this film knows how to play the material. Chris Rock shows up in multiple roles as Pootie's buddy, Pootie's daddy, and a seemingly retarded disc jockey for a radio station. Wanda Sykes spends much of the film dancing on a street corner and commenting about how hot Pootie is. Robert Vaughn is the only actor who looks extremely embarrassed to be in this movie (he acts as if he's grinding his teeth, waiting for each scene to end quickly and painlessly).
I was surprised that Pootie Tang wasn't half as bad as I'd feared. It's not hysterical or brilliant entertainment, but it does entertain. Pootie would be proud.
Pootie Tang is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Much of the film is intentionally shot on video tape, so some scenes look grainy and soft. Otherwise, the filmed scenes have vibrant colors and dark black levels. Some imperfections abound in the transfer, including edge enhancement and a small amount of grain. In all honesty, this is a very middle-of-the-road transfer. It's not bad, but it's not great either.
Audio is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby 2.0 in English. The 5.1 track tends to be on the low end with directional effects consisting of songs and music. This audio track works well in the confines of the film, though it's not a very aggressive mix. Dialogue, effects, and music were all clear of any hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
Pootie Tang didn't hit its target audience upon initial release, and as such it's not surprising to find this disc lacking in special features. The only supplements available are a non-anamorphic theatrical trailer for Pootie Tang and the music video "Pootie Tangin'" by the group 702.
I realize that I'm going straight to hell for liking Pootie Tang. Maybe it was a freak accident that I enjoyed this film. A gas leak in my apartment? Too much wine at dinner? Maybe there's asbestos in the walls. Whatever the reason, I actually had a good time. May God have mercy on my soul.
I find myself guilty for laughing at this movie. Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Theatrical Trailer
* Music Video -- "Pootie Tangin'" by 702