Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Louis C.K.|
|Written by||Louis C.K.|
|Edited by||Doug Abel|
David Lewis Smith
|Box office||$3.3 million|
Pootie Tang is a 2001 American comedy film written and directed by Louis C.K. Adapted from a comedy sketch that first appeared on The Chris Rock Show, the character Pootie Tang is a satire of the stereotyped characters who appeared in old blaxploitation films. The title character's speech, which vaguely resembles pidgin, is mostly unintelligible to the audience, but the other characters in the film have no problem understanding him.
Pootie Tang, born in "a small town outside Gary, Indiana," is portrayed as a ladies' man who is "too cool for words", even as a young child. His life is marked by the deaths of his mother "Momma Dee," and shortly thereafter his father "Daddy Tang," who dies after being mauled by a gorilla during his shift at the steel mill (the third time someone had suffered that particular fate). Just before Daddy Tang's death, Pootie inherits his father's belt and is told that (as long as he has right on his side) he can "whoop anyone's ass with just that belt."
As a young adult, Pootie Tang rises to fame and becomes well known for a variety of reasons. He sings in nightclubs, stars in public service announcements for children, produces top-of-the-charts music hits, and generally defeats wrongdoers with the power of his belt. Dick Lecter, the chief operating officer of multi-industrial conglomerate LecterCorp, learns of Pootie Tang's positive influence on society — and his negative influence on LecterCorp's bottom line. After his henchmen and a villain named Dirty Dee are sent away by Pootie's friends, Lecter encourages his right-hand lady, Ireenie, to seduce Pootie Tang into signing an agreement with LecterCorp that would stop Pootie Tang's influence on America's children.
Pootie Tang falls for Ireenie's tricks and subsequently falls apart. His status as pop culture icon is destroyed, and he engages on a quest to "find [him]self." This journey is encouraged by Biggie Shortie, who promises to wait for Pootie to return to her and to the rest of society. Pootie moves to a farm where the local sheriff decides Pootie and his daughter should start dating. After his single corn stalk dies, he has a vision of Daddy Tang and Momma Dee. Daddy Tang reveals that there is nothing special about Pootie's belt; instead, Pootie must fight evil with the goodness that is inside him. After dealing with Dirty Dee and his henchman Froggy (as well as getting his belt back), Pootie realizes he must move back to the city and fight crime once again.
Pootie Tang returns to the city just as Dick Lecter is unveiling the first of his new restaurant chain, Pootie's Bad Time Burgers. At a small news conference, Pootie confronts Lecter only to discover that Lecter has amassed dozens of "Pootie-alikes" who will spread the message of LecterCorp around the nation. Pootie Tang, with the help of Biggie Shortie, defeats all of these henchmen and Lecter himself. Good triumphs over evil once again, and Biggie Shortie finally gets her man: she and Pootie Tang plan to get married now that Pootie is back. Elsewhere, Dick Lecter leaves corporate life and becomes an actor, Ireenie leaves him and becomes a counselor helping at-risk teenage prostitutes, and Dirty Dee is still dirty.
- Lance Crouther as Pootie Tang
- J. B. Smoove as Trucky
- Jennifer Coolidge as Ireenie
- Wanda Sykes as Biggie Shorty
- Robert Vaughn as Dick Lecter
- Chris Rock as JB/Radio DJ/Daddy Tang
- Reg E. Cathey as Dirty Dee
- J.D. Williams as Froggy
- Mario Joyner as Lacey
- Dave Attell as Frank
- Laura Kightlinger as Laura Knight
- Rick Shapiro as Shakey
- Missy Elliott as Diva
- David Cross as Dennis, a Pootie-alike
- Cole Hawkins as Little Pootie
- Andy Richter as Record executive
- Kristen Bell as Record executive's daughter
- Keesha Sharp as Party girl
- Todd Barry as Greasy
- Bob Costas as Himself
- Fabian Celebre as Sleuthy
- Anthony Iozzo as Slobby
Originally a Paramount Classics film titled Pootie Tang in Sine Your Pitty on the Runny Kine, the budget was increased and transferred to the main Paramount Pictures division. C.K. has stated that he was all but fired from the film during the editing phase. According to him, Ali LeRoi was hired to extensively re-edit the film. Openly agreeing with Roger Ebert's dismissive criticism that the movie should not have even been released, C.K. has said that the finished product, though containing parts he enjoyed, was far from his own vision.
Critical reception was generally negative, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it an approval rating of 27% based on 44 reviews. Roger Ebert gave it a half-star rating, criticizing it for excessive use of vulgar language and demeaning portrayal of women, describing it as a "train wreck" and finishing his review by bluntly stating "This film is not in a releasable condition." Nathan Rabin at The A.V. Club said Pootie Tang "borders on audience abuse" and "confuse[s] idiocy for absurdity and randomness for wit." In 2009, fellow A.V. Club writer Scott Tobias revisited the film and included it in his New Cult Canon series, noting that "Pootie Tang repelled mainstream critics and audiences, but it holds an exalted status among alt-comedians and fans of subversive anti-comedy in general."
Pootie Tang crosses all cultural barriers to become the dumbest movie I've seen in an entire generation. But it is also funny as hell ... Pootie Tang strives for the dumbness it achieves, a feat few films can do ... this is a good kind of dumb. Like mooning. Like a cat falling off a table.
In popular culture
- In the 2003 horror film spoof Scary Movie 3, George Carlin's character, The Architect, says he accidentally returned a cursed video tape to Blockbuster, thinking it was Pootie Tang. Subsequently, aliens arrive on Earth and claim they watched the video tape that spurred their visits to Earth because they thought it was Pootie Tang.
- In the TV show The Bernie Mac Show, Chris Rock (who appears in Pootie Tang) attends a poker game at Bernie Mac's house. A player remarks that he really enjoyed Pootie Tang, to which Rock replies that "even [his] momma didn't see Pootie Tang."[episode needed] Also, in the episode "The Talk," Wanda's friend tells Mac that she saw him on the video's box cover, though Mac denies this, as he does not appear on that film's box cover.
- Conan O'Brien has said on his television show that Pootie Tang is "the greatest name of a film ever."
- "Pootie Tang". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- "POOTIE TANG (15)". British Board of Film Classification. October 2, 2001. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
- Pootie Tang at Box Office Mojo
- Original Appearance in the Chris Rock Show
- WTF with Marc Maron - Louis C.K. part 1
- Scott Raab (May 23, 2011). "Louis C.K.: The ESQ+A". Esquire.
- Pootie Tang at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ebert, Roger (June 29, 2001). "Pootie Tang". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- Rabin, Nathan (March 29, 2002). "Pootie Tang". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- Tobias, Scott (July 23, 2009). "The New Cult Canon - Pootie Tang". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- Murphy, Kevin. A Year at the Movies, HarperCollins, 2002, p.172. ISBN 0-06-093786-6
- Kristen Bell discussing Pootie Tang on Conan. YouTube. March 24, 2012.
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