Pootie Tang

Like many other movies adapated from sketches (most notably the ones from Saturday Night Live), Pootie Tang never quite makes it as a movie. It is funny in five-minute segments, but wears thin quickly when stretched out to a full-length motion picture (and not even that). However, it seems that the people who made Pootie Tang realized this and decided to make the film as strange as possible. To a degree, it works. There is so little going on in the film that everybody involved needs to do as much as they can to focus people on the odd peripherals of the film. There are a considerable amount of talented people working on Pootie Tang, but none of their skill makes it to the finished product.

Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther, Fear of a Black Hat, the writer of Down to Earth) is an urban superhero. He is writer/director Louis C.K.'s (Tomorrow Night) spoof of both superheroes and the old blaxploitation movies. Pootie is the essence of cool. In fact, he is too cool for words. Most of what he spouts are non-sensical syllables strung together (Wa-da-ta!, Sine your pitty on the runny kine!, Sipitai!). Nevertheless, he is so cool that everybody understands exactly what he means. He is pimped out with a huge belt that he uses to whack the bad guys like some jock with a towel. Together with his friends Trucky (J.B. Smoove, Tomorrow Night) and hi girlfriend Biggie Shorty (Wanda Sykes, Down to Earth, Nutty Professor II), he, uh, apparently does something. To say this movie has a plot is a huge compliment. It is more a series of smaller sketches, strung together with minor music videos.

The only semblance of a story involves Pootie trying to regain his reputation after a corporation acquires the rights to his name and begins using it to sell fatty foods, cigarettes, and alcohol. Pootie goes down and out. Pootie goes to the farm. Sketch after sketch, with odd non-sequitors involving Bob Costas interviewing characters in the movie about the movie. Sykes and Smoove also narrate at various points, apparently to keep people from forgetting what is going on. Chris Rock (Down to Earth, A.I.), the man behind all this, plays some small roles, but is not as his best. Small moments are funny, like when Pootie records a hit song with no music or lyrics, since he is too cool for words. But there are too few genuinely funny parts to Pootie Tang.

It would be nice if Pootie had some personality. The movie defines him solely by his grandiose gestures of cool and his babbling. Like much else in Pootie Tang, this is funny for a couple moments, then becomes old. This is the second movie in a row to clock in at less than ninety minutes (after Dr. Dolittle 2). Seventy-two minutes is a pathetic length for a feature film. Take out the music video introduction and constant shots of Sykes dancing, and the actual running time is probably close to an hour. With people paying upwards of ten dollars for a movie, less is definitely not more. On the other hand, the pain dies (relatively) quickly.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 12 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sex related material, language, and drug content.

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