Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger: Grade B

Kill the Messenger (2008)
Chris Rock. Director Marty Callner.

This was an HBO show compiled from Rock’s standup performances in New York, London, and Johannesburg. The same act was performed at all three venues so you see him suddenly in different apparel and with different length hair as the the three performances are intercut. There is no appreciable difference among the performances except sound quality, and that’s too bad. Perhaps the idea was to emphasize that Rock is an international star, but that’s important to him, not the viewer. It would have been far more interesting to hear and see how he tailored his act for the different audiences, as he surely did.

The jokes are characteristic Rock, outrageous in style, racial, and profane. He is a funny man and a very good standup. But a lot of the material was tired. Men say this, women say that; blacks do this, whites, do that; fat people are this way, skinny people are that way; the rich believe this, the poor believe that. It was well-worn stuff, although delivered expertly, and apparently well-received.

There were only few truly off-the-wall creative pieces that caught my attention. There was a terrific scene that involved Rock being stabbed in the neck with a pen by Regis Philbin. That was from left field. Another had GW Bush walking by with a “pocketful of fucks” but he wouldn’t give one when asked. But such moments of real creativity were rare. A lot more jokes involved blowjobs than transcendent silliness or keen observation.

Rock has clearly studied George Carlin and even Eddie Murphy. He probably studies all the greats. But the Carlin and Murphy gestures stood out as imitations and were not well-integrated. You get the feeling that Rock is trying to re-find his groove, and he almost has. He’s not as good as he was in his youth, but that could be said of us all. Still, he is a first class talent and the show is worth watching.

No comments:

Post a Comment