Thursday, July 12, 2001

Pootie call

Movie: Pootie Tang

Posted on Thu, Jul 12, 2001 at 4:00 AM

Our Rating: 2.00

Faster than the cracking whip of his daddy's belt. Stronger than the funk of his nemesis Dirty Dee (Reg E. Cathey, "Tank Girl"). Able to leap beyond logic in a single word of gibberish unbounded. Look up on the screen: It's a pimp. It's a pop star. It's... Pootie Tang ?

Born in the humble Midwestern hamlet of Chicago with strange and fabulous powers over women, clothed in furs and animal prints, Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther, HBO's "The Chris Rock Show") enters a world he can not understand -- and a world that can not understand him. Too hip for any known language, only his uncanny abilities of expression allow those other than his family and his "domies," his closest friends, to decipher what the hell he's saying.

Daddy Tang (Chris Rock, "Down to Earth") rigorously schools his only son in right and wrong with the leather of his belt. On his deathbed after a singularly tragic steel mill accident (he's mauled by a gorilla), he passes the belt to Pootie. "As long as you got right on your side, you can whup anybody's ass with that belt," he assures. But he offers one ominous warning before he passes away: "Don't let the ladies come between you and the belt."

Pootie, bare-chested and clad in fur, hide and print of every animal known to man, the model of '70s pimp-daddy cool behind his yellow-tinted tortoise shell shades, goes on to fight crime with his daddy's belt -- and conquer the entertainment industry. But when his nemesis, the Pig Pen of crime, Dirty Dee, allies himself with corporate villain Dick Lector (Robert Vaughn, "BASEketball" ), Pootie finds his belt in the hands of Lector's evil "hootchie" Ireenie (Jennifer Coolidge, "Down to Earth"). Can Pootie Tang recover his belt and triumph over an army of Lector's "Pootie-a-like" impersonators before they addict America to the Bad Burgers to be sold in our hero's name?

Pootie Tang at best is a laugh-out-loud satire of corporate evil. Its visuals mix MTV, "The Matrix," TV's "Batman" and the Keystone Cops into a strange brew that's sometimes hard to hold down. At its worst, poor pacing, digressions and non-sequiturs make it trying. This one may be only for Chris Rock's truest "domies."


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