Saturday, March 04, 2006

Dave Chappelle's Block Party

Every couple of years or so, I see a movie that I'm convinced was made just for me.

They usually center around music, like "Almost Famous" and "O Brother Where Art Thou?," or geeks like me, such as "Napoleon Dynamite." It happened again this weekend with "Dave Chappelle's Block Party."

Especially in the beginning, as we see Dave at home in Ohio, where one white woman invited to the hip-hop street party Dave is staging in Brooklyn actually remarks that she'll have to buy a thong, the movie is very, very funny. My personal favorite joke was Dave on the mic, after asking if there are any Mexicans in the audience, doing his Mexican Lil Jon: Que? Like he did on his show, he trades in stereotypes by proving that, while they're almost always wrong, pointing that out can be hilarious.

A word of warning: As for the music, if you don't like hip-hop, you will be bored for long stretches.

About a week ago in the Telegraph, we ran a headline in the sports section that, unfortunately, both Jay Leno and Dave Chappelle would have found very funny. After the first woman, who had a role in the negro leagues that preceded the integration of Major League Baseball, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, we referred to it in the headline as the "Negro Hall of Fame."

Seeing Dave beaming on stage with so many people he clearly admires, I had to smile myself as I thought he probably would laugh out loud if you called his block party just that. With hip-hop now 30 years old, this first concert movie from the genre to play in theaters everywhere felt like a much-deserved coronation, albeit strictly with a New York accent.

Most critics have hailed Lauryn Hill's crooning "Killing Me Softly" reunited with Pras and Wyclef as the musical highlight, but I beg to differ. For me, the reunion of Mos Def and Talib Kweli as Blackstar topped the bill, barely edging out a clearly amped-up Dead Prez. As he does almost everywhere, Kanye West just made a jerk of himself, but luckily he was gone early.

With the exception of Kanye, the music is great, and Michel Gondry films it all as the loose affair that it was, letting you feel the party vibe throughout.

As it was all coming to an end, I flashed back to that scene in "Amelie" where Audrey Tautou turns around in a packed movie theater to look at the people's faces.

If anyone had done that Saturday afternoon, they would have seen a goofy white guy with a big grin on his face, bobbing his head in the white man's version of dancing and loving every minute of it.

Thanks for the invite, Dave. Now, please settle your differences with Comedy Central and get back on TV as soon as possible. We all need you.

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