Dave Chappelle's Block Party

on March 03, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
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Dave Chappelle claims that all comedians want to be musicians and all musicians want to be comedians -- and he goes out of his way to prove it. Not only does Chappelle crack wise in this very insightful and politically motivated concert doc, he jams with all the musical guests as well. Using the '70s documentary/concert film "Wattstax" as a model, Chappelle stages this Brooklyn block party under a cloak of secrecy. Potential attendees had to register online and were then bused to a secret location where each act was also kept a secret until they actually took the stage. The interludes feature Chappelle on a nationwide tour where he solicits the oddest groups and individuals to attend. What is most interesting is how ubiquitously known Chappelle is. From the deep south to upper-east-side Manhattan, everyone Chappelle approaches knows him -- they even quote him.

As for the film, Chappelle's comedy asides are wonderful not only because they are so funny, but because they are so insightful. Chappelle's race-conscious humor is at the fore, but his intention is less to discern our differences than to underline our similarities. As for the music, which is fundamentally hip-hop and R&B, the performances are seminal. They include all of the popular acts of the day, as well as a reuniting of The Fugees after nearly five years. This is effectively an inner-city Woodstock -- only funny. Featuring Dave Chappelle, Erykah Badu, Cody Chestnutt, Common, Mos Def, Freeway, James Gray, Fred Hampton Jr., Lauryn Hill, Leonard Hubbard, Wyclef Jean, Big Daddy Kane, Talib Kweli, Tiffany Limos, Pras, Dead Prez, Kool G. Rap, Jill Scott, Kanye West. Directed by Michel Gondry. Written by Dave Chappelle. Produced by Dave Chappelle, Michel Gondry and Bob Yari. A Focus release. Comedy/Documentary. Rated R for language. Running time: 100 min

Tags: Featuring Dave Chappelle, Erykah Badu, Cody Chestnutt, Common, Mos Def, Freeway, James Gray, Fred Hampton Jr., Lauryn Hill, Leonard Hubbard, Wyclef Jean, Big Daddy Kane, Talib Kweli, Tiffany Limos, Pras, Dead Prez, Kool G. Rap, Jill Scott, Kanye West, Directed by Michel Gondry, Written by Dave Chappelle, Produced by Dave Chappelle, Michel Gondry and Bob Yari, Focus, Comedy, Documentary
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