More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.38%
Worth A Look43.75%
Average: 15.63%
Pretty Bad: 6.25%
Total Crap: 25%

1 review, 26 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Lion King, The (2019) by Peter Sobczynski

Stare by Jay Seaver

DreadOut by Jay Seaver

S He by Jay Seaver

We Are Little Zombies by Jay Seaver

Lion King, The (2019) by alejandroariera

Darlin' by Jay Seaver

Astronaut (2019) by Jay Seaver

White Storm 2: Drug Lords, The by Jay Seaver

Vivarium by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Head of State
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Surprisingly witty and caustic political satire."
4 stars

The trouble with the films prior to "Head of State" that have had Chris Rock in major roles is that they have not used the comedian's considerable talents properly.

In his stage shows, his young face serves as a stark contrast to his intelligent, caustic humor; he is somehow both innocent and devious simultaneously. But in his films, he has generally been rendered one or the other, usually silly and comedically impotent.

In "Head of State," Chris Rock has finally found a leading role that suits him. He plays a low-level city alderman called upon to run for president by schemers who intend for him to lose. Unaware of the ploy, he is innocent. But as co-writer and director of the film, Rock also gets to be devious -- and as his character catches on, his knack for biting social satire is put to good use.

Rock is Mays Gilliam, the busiest alderman (what does an alderman do, anyway?) in Washington, D.C., in a neighborhood so bad, "you can get shot while you're getting shot." He's a true man of the people with mild political aspirations, but generally happy to help his neighbors.

In the midst of the 2004 presidential election, one party's candidate -- no political parties are ever named -- and his running mate die in a plane crash. The party's heir apparent, Sen. Arnot (James Rebhorn), knows he doesn't stand a chance of winning if he runs, because the opponent is the current two-term vice president. But in 2008, he'll have a chance. So all he has to do now is put in a filler candidate for this election -- someone who definitely won't win.

With Mays having recently been a local hero for saving a woman and her cat from a demolished building, ____ sees his picture on TV and decides this is the low-level politician they need to be their losing candidate.

It will not surprise you to learn that, once the campaign begins, Mays starts to gain popularity, due to his no-nonsense, down-to-earth style. The story is old, and it makes little sense -- why shouldn't Arnot run for president himself, even though he knows he won't win? -- but it gives Rock and co-writer Ali LeRoi opportunity to skewer the election process and politics in general. The humor does not succeed in every instance, but it connects more often than it misses.

Rock is likable, as always, and while his directorial vision may be scattershot at times, at least it's something different. He also had the good sense to cast Bernie Mac as his brother and running mate. Any time Bernie Mac is on the screen, the film becomes twice as funny as it was before. I would pay money to re-view the scene where he slaps a series of lobbyists, and his altercations with TV journalists are priceless.

There are several running jokes, including Mays' opponent's motto of "God bless America and no one else" and Mays' immediate access, at all times, to security personnel. They bespeak a certain jollity that is infectious: For all its cutting commentary on American politics, this is a very sunny, idealistic film. It is in the spirit of all the other films that have suggested one man can buck the system and make a difference, and I suspect that's a notion that will never go out of style.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/04/03 16:54:52
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

2/27/18 Jeff Wilder Funny in spots. But weakened by real world events and a one-joke premise. 3 stars
1/01/10 Dane Youssef Rock is the greatest there ever was. As a filmmaker, he's on par. It's fine for slow nights 3 stars
11/03/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 4 stars
2/23/06 Frank Rountree a total waste of film 1 stars
4/27/05 lio can rock do anything else besides race jokes, my arse has more talent 1 stars
5/29/04 whatevr worth going out and renting 4 stars
5/06/04 Falcon The entire White House staff starts dancing to the beat. Can it get any funnier? 5 stars
11/20/03 c awsome 5 stars
8/17/03 Bam Margera Some parts made me laugh, some made me roll my eyes and groan...all in all, pretty funny! 4 stars
8/08/03 gibbons Probably the funniest movie ive seen in 2003. Thats not saying much but hey issa good movie 4 stars
7/25/03 Stephanie Throckmorton "Social commentary" a mixedbag some good some crass stereotypes; humor on whole better. 3 stars
6/17/03 Erin The previews looked so funny. Should've just shown that and no movie cuz the movie lacked 2 stars
6/06/03 Elizaveta great social commentary, predictable humor... 3 stars
4/04/03 Goofy Maxwell Heavy sampling, but Rock digs deeper. Betta think b4 u laugh, else u miss bruh's def words. 4 stars
4/03/03 Ken Is there anything funnier than old, white people acting young and black? Yes - EVERYTHING. 1 stars
4/02/03 Uncle Salty Proof that Chris Rock's movies are an ongoing project of SUCK. 1 stars
4/01/03 Todd They be keepin it real yo! Real fucking ignorant. 1 stars
4/01/03 Mason M.F. Williams Bad filmaking but laugh out loud funny. It's like watching Chris's stand-up. 4 stars
3/31/03 Atanu Cheap crap. 1 stars
3/31/03 Mike Much funnier than Down to Earth! 4 stars
3/30/03 KCobain It was bad 1 stars
3/30/03 mara z. only okay. 3 stars
3/30/03 Anthony It was good 5 stars
3/29/03 Jin I can't believe people would actually pay to see this trash. 1 stars
3/26/03 DeeJ Funny jokes, poor character development 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  28-Mar-2003 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Chris Rock

Written by
  Chris Rock

  Chris Rock
  Bernie Mac
  Tamala Jones
  Lynn Whitfield
  Dylan Baker
  Robin Givens

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast