Dave Chappelle's Block Party: A-
BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
David Chappelle really knows how to throw a party (©2006Rogue Pictures).
When Comedy Central’s comedian extraordinaire organizedand funded a free street concert in Brooklyn—the stuff that hip-hop dreamsare made of—he chronicled the historic event in the making. In signaturestyle, David Chappelle’s informal and quirky documentary not only ticklesour funny bone, it makes us feel like we’re sitting in his living room.
Since the film contains segments of the street concert, it can only helpif you appreciate hip-hop artists like The Fugees, Mos Def, Kanye West,and Dead Prez—not that I’ve ever heard of some of these people.But even a rap-challenged suburbanite like me will be entertained by thefree-style comedian as he roams his Ohio hometown offering bus transportto Brooklyn and recruiting the Central State University marching bandto kick off the show.
A little backstage trivia: While organizing the concert, Chappelle keptmost of the details secret, including its location. Concertgoers had toregister on-line and were then directed to go to a secret location in NewYork’s Chinatown, where they were bussed to a humble Brooklyn neighborhoodfor a free concert that hip-hop fans would probably have killed to hear.Observing the resulting concert crowd, Chappelle tallied “5,000 blackpeople chillin’ in the rain” with “19 white people pepperedin the crowd.”
While this documentary/comedy/concert has grossed a lean $10 million,it holds steady at 93 percent on RottenTomatoes.com, suggesting itwill gather a more long-term following on the DVD circuit. Directed byMichel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and ratedone of the best entries at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, BlockParty deliversno-frills, roll-with-the-punches footage that plays like one longout-take and goes down as gently as an after-dinner mint with norisk of indigestion. Dave Chappelle sure knows how to throw a party.
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