"The Original Kings of Comedy"
Directed by Spike Lee.
Starring Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 8/24/00
Gordon "The Professional" Stokes--rap
encyclopedia, middle school teacher and hard-core Redskins fan--had
this to say when I asked him what he thought of the new Spike Lee
movie "The Original Kings of Comedy":
"F***in' good stuff!!"
So, I rolled over to the theater last night
to catch the flick, and I want to put this as simply as possible:
this is the funniest movie of the year. Some of you have probably
not even heard of this film, so let me give you the skinny. Over
last year and the first half of this year, four comedians--Steve
Harvey, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac--toured
the country to perform a two-hour comedy set called the "Kings of
Comedy" tour, playing to sold-out audiences all over and raking in
almost $40 million, unheard of for a non-musical concert tour.
Spike Lee decided to make a movie out of it, recording a few scenes
of the comics in-between performances on the road, and recording the
stand-up they performed on the last night of the tour, in Charlotte,
North Carolina. So, this makes the movie very similar to Eddie
Murphy's "Raw" and "Delirious" films, the Richard Pryor stand-up
flick from moons ago, and the best--ABSOLUTE best—of all time, "Bill
Cosby, Himself." (If you have not seen the Cosby film, you have got
to see it: every time I watch it, the thing gets funnier, and it is
all PG-rated material, which is the best part about it.)
Anyway, "The Original Kings of Comedy" is
hilarious. Sure, it is laced with profanity, racism, and stinging
commentary about the crowd members, but that doesn't get in the way
of you laughing your ass off. Since there is no real plot, you can
just sit back and relax and take it all in. The performances are
all pretty good, although I thought Hughley was probably the weakest
of the four; while his TV show "The Hughleys" is not bad, his
delivery and his scatterbrained approach to joke telling made for
some hit-or-miss moments during his set; the other three seemed to
hit every time they told a new joke or story. Harvey is really good
here, and although I've never watched his show, he made enough jokes
about it at his expense that I might have to check it out every so
But, the best performance of the movie, by
far, is Cedric the Entertainer's set; there are three or four
moments where I almost fell out of my chair--REALLY fell out of my
chair--because of the sustained laughter. Gordon said it best:
after Cedric is done, you might have the worst face cramps you have
ever suffered through from laughing. I was trying to think if I had
ever seen some of his stand-up before, and I don't think that I
have; there is no question now that I am going to have to check some
of it out, because this is the part that I am going to want to see
again when I watch this movie on video. Man! They easily could
have made a full two-hour movie on just Cedric's stuff, it is that
good. Bernie Mac ends better than he starts (mostly because he is a
little harder to understand in terms of his English--he talks faster
than I do, which I didn't think was possible), and his description
of one of my favorite swear words ends his set beautifully.
Lee doesn't have to work hard here to make a
good film, but his touches of showing us people in the audience and
the interesting camera angles showing off the comics winning the
approval of the thousands in attendance keep things interesting.
The scenes in-between each performance are not very good and don't
real add anything to the comedy, so they are thankfully kept to the
bare minimum. And, for the first time in a long time, Lee doesn't
show up in the movie--I have always thought that Lee is too
important a character in his movies; I still think that "Do the
Right Thing" would have won the Oscar that year if he wasn't the
lead character. By making a documentary, I don't have to see him at
all, and he can concentrate on his incredible directing skills, not
his pitiful performing attributes.
See this movie right now--do yourself a
favor and skip the awful-looking race war cheerleading film "Bring
It On" this weekend and catch some stand-up instead.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard