Head of State Movie Poster Image

Head of State

(i)

 

Chris Rock runs for president.
  • Review Date: August 11, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence

Comic violence, a lot of slapping and punching

Sex

Sexual references including prostitution

Language

Some very strong language

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

References to drinking and drugs, smoking

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some raw humor that may be troubling or offensive to some audience members. A woman breaks up with her fiance by telling him that he is bad in bed and "I've had better sex with guys who have spina bifida." A beautiful woman on the candidate's staff is a prostitute hired to be available so that there will not be any sex scandals (though Mays turns her down). There are jokes about drinking and drugs (though Mays refuses to accept campaign contributions from a man who markets malt liquor to minors). There is a lot of hitting and slapping that is supposed to be comic and jokes about assassination attempts.

What's the story?

Chris Rock makes an appealing Presidential candidate in HEAD OF STATE, a comedy about Mays Gilliam, a Washington D.C. alderman who is thrown into the race after a plane crash kills the candidates for President and Vice President just weeks before the election. The idea is to use Mays as a placeholder so that one of the party regulars can be the candidate in 2008. At first, Mays does what he is told by the party's handlers. He wears a suit and tie and speaks in meaningless platitudes. Then he decides to be himself and speak from his heart and the voters begin to respond.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Yes, it's a little bit Rocky and a little bit Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. And it's more than a little bit Chris Rock's stand-up routine. But his stand-up is pretty funny, and a lot funnier than his previous movies. This one, directed and co-written by Rock, is a real-life version of the story it tells. Rock is breaking away from what he had been told to do to succeed in Hollywood and just being himself, which makes this a nice way to spend 90 minutes.

The joke success to failure rate is above average, as Rock goes after men, women, whites, blacks, voters, and just about everyone and everything else. Thankfully, the movie avoids the easy "white people with no soul get taught how it's done by black people" clichés. I loved it when Mays abandoned his generic campaign ads and conservative suits in favor of gangsta-flava'd music-video-style spots and threads. It's a shame to waste Robin Givens by making her character a one-note shrieking harpy, and Rock cannot act at all, but he does get some able support from Lynn Whitfield and Dylan Baker as political advisors and Tamala Jones as the sweet girl he'd like as his first lady.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why what Mays says is so appealing to voters. His diagnoses of the problems may be right, but does he offer any solutions? When are we likely to have a black President, and who is it likely to be? What does it mean to "dress for the job you want?" Was it true that the options Mays had were limited because he had to represent the entire black race the way a white candidate would not? Why was Lisa's advice to "run your race" so important?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 28, 2003
DVD release date:August 12, 2003
Cast:Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Dylan Baker
Director:Chris Rock
Studio:DreamWorks
Genre:Comedy
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language, some sexuality and drug references

This review of Head of State was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bymnmluvr December 29, 2008

Very Funny.

I thought that this movie was one of the funniest movies ever. It is kind of ironic because he was black, and watching Barrack Obama in the current day is really quite hilarious. If you see how he acts and is treated you can see similarities in today's happenings.
Adult Written byLowe's man February 18, 2016

Ideas compensate for lack of experience by this candidate.

There is sexual humor that was put in just for the sake of it. Some of the other unclean humor was unnecessary as well. For those reasons I'd have reservations about showing this movie to anyone 12-14. That said, Chris Rock's character had some good ideas drawn from good points. (The most memorable was in a campaign speech: "People work in a hospital that they can't afford to get sick in.") It is because of ideas like these that he was able to beat a candidate with more experience, something that should happen more often in elections in real life. The message of this movie is that ideas beat experience. Mays obviously stuck up for low wage workers and the poor.
Adult Written byaidans1 September 12, 2015
some sexual refrences and language

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