If you have no idea who Louis C.K. is, you should be entirely ashamed of yourself. He’s an incredible, blithely self-denigrating master comedian who currently stars in his very own show about a blithely self-denigrating master comedian called, “Louis”. He also has one of the most ethnically diverse backgrounds in the comedy industry, being part Irish, Mexican, and Hungarian, which pretty much gives him free rein to say just about anything without consequence.
Now, some time in 2001, Louis CK and Chris Rock got together to bring a character from The Chris Rock Show to life on the big screen. For those too young to remember who Chris Rock is, he’s like an older Dave Chappelle with a startling inability to control his volume. The dude is permanently on 11. He’s also pretty hilarious, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, the character this dynamic duo chose to revive was a blaxploitation hero named “Pootie Tang”.
Pootie Tang was a hero for the masses. Raised in the small town of Chicago, his father bequeathed unto him a belt on his deathbed, which insured that, as long as young Pootie was a force of justice and good in the world, he would be empowered to whoop the collective asses of anyone foolish enough to challenge him. And so Pootie Tang’s fame grew. He even released a hit single called, “__”. Here, here’s the song, and it is fantastic:
Pootie Tang doesn’t even need to use coherent words to make a hit. Which would be more impressive nowadays if Gucci Mane hadn’t already made an entire career out of just that. For those sad few who have somehow never seen Pootie Tang, here’s the synopsis: Sometime in the early aughts, a black man with a belt of insurmountable power is confronted with every black man’s greatest weakness: a white woman with questionable morals and a fondness for low-cut dresses. Almost overnight, poor Pootie is cast down from the heavenly heights of his life of decadence and fame for being tricked into doing something or another and moves to a farm, where the sexual charms of another white woman and a vision of his deceased parents in a cornfield – they’re actually dressed as corn this entire sequence – reawakens his mojo and empowers him to head back to the city to reclaim his pimptastic throne.
Now, as amazing as that sounds – and it is – you might be wondering how this qualifies Pootie Tang as an even better film than such classics as The Godfather, Blacula Meets the Black Mummy, and Muppet Treasure Island. You might be wondering how something as subjective as a film reaction can be made purely objective. Well, you’d be surprised. There are certain elements that make up the cinematic greats. For instance…
A great film needs a story that is both inherently familiar and uniquely creative. Consider the first Star Wars film, for example. George Lucas openly admits that an old Akira Kurosawa film called The Hidden Fortress was a huge influence on pretty much everything. Even the idea of the Force and all the intricate lightsaber fights all have roots in Asian culture or spirituality. So basically, Lucas took an archetype called the monomyth, or “the Hero’s Journey” , added lasers, a bad guy with asthma, and several racist metaphors and made stupid amounts of money.
The monomyth is basically this: usually some hero is stuck in a boring place, is suddenly called to do stuff, reluctantly agrees to do said stuff, is helped by some guide who wants the hero to do stuff, starts to do stuff, goes through a bunch of challenges on his/her way to do stuff, falls in love with someone who may or may not die on his/her quest to do stuff, and finally…manages to actually do stuff.
Now, Pootie Tang actually does every single thing I just listed, and in order. He starts in a boring place (being too rich and adored), is suddenly called to do stuff (be a good role model for the kids), is helped by some guide who wants the hero to do stuff (the ghost of Pootie Tang’s father appears to guide Pootie to be a good person), starts to do stuff (by whooping the ass of Dirty Dee, his advisary…whose power is not bathing), goes through a bunch of challenges (white women and the loss of his belt), falls in love with someone (Biggie Shortie, Wanda Sykes’ greatest role), and finally does stuff (defeats Dirty Dee and reclaims his belt). Pootie Tang legitimately has a great story, all the while oozing the kind of uncensored, insane creativity only the blaxploitation genre can provide.
A great film needs to have some people who dislike it.
Pootie Tang has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 29%, which is, of course, completely ridiculous.
As a point of comparison, The Dark Knight has a score of 94%. Both films are utterly excellent, however, both have at least 6% of all the reviewers who simply did not enjoy it. And I seriously can’t imagine why that is…
All great films have something controversial.
This is ostensibly the most questionable scene in Pootie Tang. Don’t watch it in public or without an unhinged sense of humor:
If you chose to skip it, basically, a crazed fan follows Pootie as he rides the elevator, clinging to him and screaming wildly. Pootie, ever the bastion of morality, pretty much just ignores her. Finally, he manages to enter his room, leaving the crazed fan outside, where she complains she should be given something. Pootie politely places a bowl of milk outside the door, which the fan gladly drinks.
Now I completely understand if some people are like, that’s kinda sexist, isn’t it? And yea, maybe a little bit. However, consider the parallels between Pootie Tang and oh, say…Justin Bieber. Calm down, I got a point to this.
Both Bieber and Tang attract women like flies to honey, both have a substantial, though questionable musical background, and both are probably fictional. Now, statistically speaking, it only makes sense that a portion of either of their fanbase would be…well, crazy. If you’ve ever used Twitter for instance, Bieber fans are so zealous about their idol, and tweet incessantly about every little thing he does, that Twitter actually banned “Justin Bieber” as a trending topic. Of course, this changed pretty much nothing, as fans just found new ways around this by just misspelling everything. It has, however, been a continuous source of amusement for me seeing things like “#IloveBeeber” trending almost daily. Now, this scene in Pootie Tang, at its core, is pretty much just a rabid fan doing something crazy, which is really nothing new at all. For instance, watch these fans bother the Twilight dude:
I bet he wishes he had a bowl of milk right about now, huh?
Finally, the greatest film of all time must have J.B. Smoove in some way.
This is J.B. Smoove, and he’s completely hilarious. And he’s in Pootie Tang. Here he is in Curb Your Enthusiasm:
By having J.B. Smoove and the several other components above, Pootie Tang is objectively the greatest film of all time.