Head of State (film)
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|Head of State|
|Directed by||Chris Rock|
|Produced by||Michael Rotenberg
|Written by||Chris Rock
|Music by||Marcus Miller
|Cinematography||Donald E. Thorin|
|Edited by||Stephen A. Rotter|
3 Arts Entertainment
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|March 28, 2003|
Head of State is a 2003 comedy film directed, written by, and starring Chris Rock and co-starring Bernie Mac. It marked the directorial debut of Rock, who had previously worked as a writer, producer and actor. The film's title refers to that function of the President of the United States, the other two functions being head of government and commander in chief.
Mays Gilliam is an alderman of the 9th Ward in Washington D.C.. After being fired from his post and dumped by his girlfriend, Kim, Mays is surprisingly chosen as the party candidate for the presidency (after his party's original presidential and vice-presidential nominees die when their two separate planes crash into each other) to run against sitting vice-president Brian Lewis. Assuming the election was already lost, the party decided to pick a likable but unwinnable minority candidate to improve their chances in the next presidential election. At first, Mays feels he will not be able to succeed as President because he would be representing the entire African-American populace, and does not want to do anything to mess it up. However, Mays begins to rise in the polls after his brother persuades him to speak out for what he believes. He begins to talk about issues such as welfare, money, society, etc. After Lewis runs a series of attack ads including one saying Mays supports cancer, Mays begins to fight back using what he claimed was "kissing" his opponent (taken from Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd cartoons). A part of this strategy includes dubbing a videotape of Osama bin Laden saying he hates America but loves Brian Lewis. This strategy gains Mays even more points in the polls. As voting day draws closer, Mays eventually learns the reason why he was chosen as the party candidate, and fires some disloyal campaign operatives (although they reconciled with him afterwards), as well as choosing his brother as his running mate. He later has a debate with his opponent in which he manages to win the crowd over by speaking truth about the American life. Finally, Mays ends up winning the election and the presidency. The film ends with a shot of Mount Rushmore with Mays Gilliam's head added; complete with bling.
- Chris Rock – Mays Gilliam
- Bernie Mac – Mitch Gilliam
- Dylan Baker – Martin Geller
- Nick Searcy – Vice President Brian Lewis
- Lynn Whitfield – Debra Lassiter
- Robin Givens – Kim
- Tamala Jones – Lisa Clark
- James Rebhorn – Senator Bill Arnot
- Keith David – Bernard Cooper
- Stephanie March – Nikki
- Ron Killings – Ron "The Truth" Killings (Credited as Ronnie Killings)
- Nate Dogg – Himself
- DJ Quik – Musical Score
- Tracy Morgan – Meat Hustler
- Ron Harris– Wrestler (uncredited)
Rock said in HBO First Look that he got the idea from the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, who chose Geraldine Ferraro — a woman — as his running mate. The Democrats knew they had little chance of defeating Ronald Reagan, but selected Ferraro in hopes of gaining female support.
Part of the presidential debate is a verbatim repeat of Monty Python's Argument Sketch.
- The ceremonial first pitch scene was filmed prior to a Baltimore Orioles–Toronto Blue Jays game at Camden Yards on August 24, 2002.
- In the scene where Mays makes an appearance for TNA Wrestling (a legitimate promotion), B.G. James is holding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, a title he has never held.
- Keith David had a small role as Bernard Cooper who is shown to have purchased Mays' car in a repo auction.
- Martin Geller (Dylan Baker) sings part of the song "Fire Water Burn".
- Boston comedian and actor Jimmy Tingle has the role of a talk show host, in which he interviews Bernie Mac.
The film received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film maintains a score of 31% approval rating from critics, with the critical consensus "Head of State squanders its potentially ripe premise with watered-down satire and formulaic gags." On Metacritic, the film maintains a score of 44/100.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, writing for Entertainment Weekly, gave the film 83/100, saying that "Rock and Mac exult in the kind of highly charged verbal and physical antics that are star-turn rewards for performers currently at the tops of their games."
- Official website
- Head of State at the Internet Movie Database
- Head of State at AllMovie
- Head of State at Box Office Mojo