Pootie Tang

Movie Information

Score:

Genre: Comedy
Director: Louis C.K.
Starring: Lance Crouther, Wanda Sykes, Chris Rock, Robert Vaughn
Rated: PG-13

Sweet Merciful King of Glory! What the hell is this witless mess? According to the press kit, it’s a spin-off from a skit that was part of HBO’s The Chris Rock Show, which sounds all too plausible, since this jaw-dropper of unbelievable unfunniness plays like the beached whale (even if it is only around the 80-minute mark) version of a TV skit. OK, so I knew it was going to be bad going in. I confess, in fact, that I asked nearly everyone I knew if they didn’t want to go review this movie instead of me. No takers. I couldn’t so much as bribe anyone into accompanying me to it. Even the prospect of witnessing the personal embarrassment of me walking up to the box office and saying, “Yes, I’m Ken Hanke from the Mountain Xpress here to review … uh …Pootie Tang,” failed to sufficiently impress them into attending. In retrospect, I realize they were wise in their choice. (They, on the other hand, need to realize that misery loves company, I know where they live and I will have my revenge.) This is yet another in the seemingly endless parade of “comedies” that seem determined to prove that just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. I will admit there’s a certain displeasing variety in the exact kind of worst on display in these films. For example, Pootie Tang is just as bad as Freddy Got Fingered, but in a wholly different way. The earlier film was stupefying in its offensive tastelessness. Pootie Tang — its single-entendre title to one side — is nowhere nearly as tasteless, but it’s even less funny and looks like production costs ran into the tens of dollars. If anyone cares — and judging by the tiny and grimly silent Friday night audience I endured this with, I’d guess not too many people do — Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther, a writer for The Chris Rock Show) is a combination crime fighter (“The DaVinci of ass-kicking”), recording artist, ladies’ man and children’s role model. He speaks in a generally unfunny made-up language, consisting of phrases like, “I’m gonna sine your pitty on the runny kine.” The plot has it that Pootie Tang’s public service announcements are seriously impacting the profits of the Lecter Corporation, a huge outfit run by the evil Dick Lecter (Robert Vaughn — yes, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. himself), whose sole mission in life is to get kids to smoke, eat unhealthy foods and guzzle malt liquor. Not surprisingly, Lecter wants to get clean-living role model Pootie out of the picture. That’s about it for plot — Lecter’s efforts to pay off, take over or outright kill off our hero. All Lecter’s efforts are sitcom simple, only the results are less amusing than an average episode of My Mother the Car. What little amusement there is comes from Chris Rock, who appears as both Pootie’s father, Daddy Tang, and one of his sidekicks, JB, and these mostly work (to the extent they do) based on Rock’s personality. Writer-director Louis C.K. (I wouldn’t give my correct name either) was named on Entertainment Weekly’s “It List: The 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment,” which only proves that entertainment is in a bad way these days. As a writer, he appears to aspire to the level of mediocre stand-up shtick, but never makes it much beyond the realm of works for those who can be amused for hours with a piece of string. As a director, he tries to cover up his writing by tarting things up with “clever” titles (which, unfortunately, he also wrote) and a good deal of pointlessly frenetic camerawork. As is usually the case with this approach, the ultimate feeling is one of a director desperately trying to keep the viewer from realizing that there’s just nothing there. The main thing I found myself wishing wasn’t there was me.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

4 thoughts on “Pootie Tang

  1. Dennis Horten

    this movie is very funny and Ken Hanke has no idea what funny is. He is taking pootie tang’s language to literal and he needs to just not worry about it because it is just a funny that doesn’t require people think about what is happening. Some people may enjoy in depth thought provoking movies and those people should not watch Pootie Tang because the movie is designed as just simple entertainment.

  2. Ken Hanke

    doesn’t require people think

    Relieved by that, were you?

  3. matt

    Personally, I thought that Freddy Got Fingered and Pootie Tang were both hilariously absurd send-ups of the traditional bildungsroman. Their tropes are more mad-lib than cookie-cutter, and therein lies their subversive genius. Rather than spoon-feeding the viewer like some Saturday-afternoon special, these films gleefully muck about with familiar archetypes and story structures with all the irreverence of a drunken undergrad on Friday night. It is precisely this sort of gleeful brilliance that would give two craps for nothing so much as to take itself seriously. Freddy and Pootie Tang are the Gilgameshes and Odyssei of the early 2000’s undergrads. Harrumph.

  4. JIm

    That was his real name. And you were pretty wrong on the guy, weren’t you? He’s been one of the best, if not the best stand up comic of the last decade. He has a great following of fans and now a show on FX. He’s also on Leno, Conan, Letterman, etc. all the time. and not just doing stand up. As a guest.

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