While we can't be certain that this one actually took Judge Dennis Prince higher, it did appear to give him a short but cozy buzz.
One part dance. One part song. A whole lot of comedy.
There's a reason Cedric the Entertainer is immediately recognizable by name or on site—we've seen a lot of him and for good reason. Having made his big splash on HBO's Def Comedy Jam and BET's ComicView, Cedric proved his comic observations to be original, insightful, and identifiable to his audiences. During his prior years of performing a stand-up act on the small club circuit, Cedric developed his affable style, his well-timed expressiveness, and an overall delivery that appeals to all sorts of folks. Emoting a personal magnetism, he was well poised to jump into other venues—which he did—including television, film, and product endorsement (Bud Light, remember?). He's made the most of what he's developed and has done so based on his pure talent.
Talent is something that Cedric is not lacking, as this guy's no one-trick-pony. In his earliest days of performing, he incorporated a bit of song and dance into his overall routine. With an obvious admiration for the Vegas-style acts from "back in the day," Cedric employs a capable voice and some very smooth stepping to give this particular HBO special, Cedric the Entertainer: Taking You Higher, a bit of glitz and glamour amid the non-stop stream of laughs. Filmed at L.A.'s Wiltern Theatre, Cedric makes a stylish entry down a flight of stairs, flanked by beautiful dancing girls he calls his "Cedibles." He begins with a cover of Tavares' "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel," goofing with the lyrics a bit to add his own comedic flair to the number. The full jazz orchestra plays on the tiered stage as he descends to the stage and steps lively as he sings. >From here, he goes into an excellent routine that covers fun topics including television, rap music, plastic surgery, meeting Bill Clinton, and Shaq as a police officer (best of the set, by far). Along the way, he brings in a couple of more musical numbers including a comedic send-up of the now late James Brown as well as a riff on Frank Sinatra. Sadly, the show ends much too quickly, running just a scant 56 minutes. Clearly, as funny and multi-talented as Cedric is, anything less than 90 minutes here is a disappointment. If the key is to leave the audience wanting more, Cedric nails that one.
As for the DVD, the 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced widescreen image looks stellar. Played through an upconverting unit, this one is sharp and colorful. There are no compression artifacts to be found and the color saturation is solid and well contained. The audio is slightly disappointing as it's presented only in a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround mix. These days, when watching live performances, I tend to prefer a well-mixed 5.1 track to replicate the in-audience experience. This is a quibble point, I admit, and the audio that is present does work well enough (it just could have been done better). The only extra on the disc is billed as "a hilarious interview" but it's obviously just an extend HBO preview of the concert, interspersing staged comments from the comedian with snippets of the actual performance. It's a bit of a dupe and, therefore, it's generally superfluous here.
In all, Cedric the Entertainer: Taking You Higher is worthy of a viewing because it will truly have you rolling in your chair. Unfortunately, the fun ends far too soon, making it difficult to recommend an actual purchase. Rent it, by all means, because you won't regret it.
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