As most moviegoers head to the theaters to get their latest Spiderman or Captain America fix, I'm still impatiently waiting for the Pootie Tang sequel.
For those who don't know, Pootie Tang is a comedy from 2001 that stars Lance Crouther as the titular superhero of the ghetto who takes on corporate America. Louis C.K. adapted the film from a comedy sketch that first appeared on The Chris Rock Show, and Jennifer Coolidge, Chris Rock, and Wanda Sykes co-star. Upon release, the film was trashed by critics and bombed at the box office, prompting critic Roger Ebert to ask: "How did this train wreck happen?"
Let's just say that critics and audiences were wrong about this one. Enough boring superhero movies have been released since 2001 to remind us that the genre as it currently stands is in dire need of revision and rejuvenation, and that Mr. Tang is the superhero to do the job.
Unlike other superhero wimps Batman and Iron Man, Pootie Tang can take on any criminal with the power of his belt, and he can make any lady swoon with just the slightest look. If that weren't enough, check out the clip below in which he makes a hit record without ever uttering a sound.
In 2005, Chris Rock said that he would love to make a sequel. However, nearly 10 years have passed and nothing has happened. This is truly devastating, because we need the character in our lives now more than ever. While Hollywood continues to churn out redundant remakes of the same old superheroes, it's about time that a major studio puts some money aside for another Pootie Tang.
"Sorry if my snoring bothered you."
Those are not the first words I'd expect out of the mouth of someone who got up on a Friday morning to catch the 10:30 AM screening of a new movie but that is more or less what the fellow who'd been sitting behind me said as I passed him on my way out. I'd heard him snoring over the constant rat-a-tat-tat of bullets and butt-kicking being doled out by Milla Jovovich et al in this latest iteration of the never-ending Resident Evil series (this time in IMAX 3D) but I figured maybe I was hearing things. Nope he was asleep.
I used to play Resident Evil on my ancient PlayStation when it first came out. It scared the crap out of me. I enjoyed the first two movies — hey they included the skinless zombie dogs! — but I lost interest soon after that. How many times can you make the zombie apocalypse exciting? How many different skintight outfits can Jovovich wear while killing grotesque creatures who shoot evil grasping tentacles out of their mouths? Why should we care about all the blood and guts when we know the people we're supposed to be emotionally invested in will never die? We don't.
Try as he might there are only so many ways for writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson to give the Resident Evil series fresh new layers for each new movie. The Umbrella Corporation is the big bad. They were playing with biological weapons and somehow there was an accident that let one of the viruses loose... and boom you've got a zombie apocalypse on your hands. Our heroine is Alice played by Milla Jovovich and there is a rotating cast of characters who help her fight the good fight against the hordes of brain-eaters and whatever is left of the Umbrella Corporation that's now after her. There are some parallels to the video game series but Paul W.S. Anderson (a gamer himself) has taken lots of liberties with the basic plot over the years. While Anderson's flashy style is especially suited to these types of movies there's not enough plot to make it work.
We don't go to video game movies for plot of course but there has to be something to hold onto; otherwise why would we care if our protagonist were in danger? Anderson tries some neat tricks to snap us back to attention like bringing back characters that were killed in previous movies and throwing in a cloning subplot that calls into question some of the characters' true identities but it's still hard to get worked up about anything onscreen. However it ultimately sidesteps any deeper ideas that might take our attention away from all the guns. And there are so many guns and explosions and elegant butt-kickings doled out by Milla and her pals (or former pals in the case of Michelle Rodriguez's character Rain) that they blend together.
It is especially difficult to work up any interest in the story because it's a franchise and no matter how many times the stars or director might say they're not that interested in doing another everyone is just waiting to see how much money this will make before deciding to go forward. There is no question how franchise movies will end; there will be no derring-do on the part of the writer or director to actually kill off a beloved character permanently. At one point it seemed like Anderson was going to pull the old "And then she woke up!" trick which would have been bold both because it's such a hackneyed idea that it would make writing professors' heads explode all over the world but also because it would have required Anderson to play in a different universe and expand his repertoire a bit. Alas like Alice and Anderson himself we just can't seem to escape this rabbit hole.