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Returning to the role of Marty the Zebra (Rock) for the third in the children’s animated franchise, the gang are still trying to make it back to their home zoo in New York, finding themselves in Europe. Using a traveling circus to remain hidden, the group take up positions in the show, and while Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller) tells them to stay low and be inconspicuous, they don’t exactly follow his rules. That goes especially so for Marty who gets surrounded by the show horses and some of heir costumes. After he dons a rainbow Afro wig and some colored polka dots, he feels the circus magic in him and does a dance. It’s short but is the movie’s funniest gag. Rock is a great voice actor and his recognizable voice (and persona) make him a perfect fit for the anxiety-ridden Zebra.
The fourth Lethal Weapon film sees franchise regulars Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) take on a Chinese crime syndicate, and along the way get fast-talking Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) involved but so too does new detective Lee Butters (Rock), who is assigned to the case. In one of many funny moments, the four men are at the police station when Butters gets a call on his cell phone, though is disconnected almost immediately after answering. This ignites complaints and Getz quickly jumps in, describing a conspiracy theory about phone company scams. This escalates into a two-man rant about the mobile phone industry and while yes, it smacks of a stand-up routine, is delivered with great gusto by both actors. Rock is a nice fit into the ever-increasingly comedic series and shows off some fine skills as a cop and leading man.
After getting the party nomination for president when the two leading candidates are tragically killed in a plane crash, Alderman Mays Gilliam (Rock) finds himself in a bitter race against current Vice-President and opponent Brian Lewis (Nick Searcy). Mays is basically a puppet on the campaign trail as the party isn’t really interested in winning, just creating a good impression for the next time, until his brother Mitch (Bernie Mac) shows up and convinces Mays to start telling it like it is. A televised national debate sets the stage for Mays to make a difference and when the right opportunity comes, unleashes a scathing attack on the politics of Lewis and the government in general, using the platform for a one-shot at a win chance to wake America up. Yes, like Lethal Weapon above, it feels like a bit pulled right form his stage routine, it is remarkably effective and while it’s a comedy, briefly hints at what he could do with a dramatic role.
As the titular heroes make their way across county because the comic book based on their likenesses is being adapted into a major motion picture, they end up in the studio where the film’s director is already on set. Chaka Luther King (Rock) is a fiercely proud black director with a monumental chip on his shoulder, convinced that every white person around him is a racist enemy out to get him. From the coffee to the script to the actors themselves, King is a fire-breathing rage machine not willing to give a single inch as he spews a continuous (hilarious) string of bitterness in all directions. Rock is a tinderbox waiting for a spark here and it’s gut-busting funny from start to stop. His suspicious eyes, his subtle movements and that unique voice make for a memorable but all-too-briefly-seen character that had everyone laughing with a twinge of unease. This is classic Chris Rock and we would pay to see a whole movie based on this character.
Andre Allen (Rock) is a famous comedian and film star trying to make a name for himself as a serious actor in a new dramatic movie, which is not being met with much acclaim. He is being interviewed by Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), who is spending the day with him as he regales her of past experiences, of which some are very painful. At one point, Andre has to do some commercial spots for Sirius radio and when he’s done, the producer, played by fellow comedian Brian Regan, tells him to put some stank on it, a clear reference to the comedy stylings of the black culture, at least in the producer’s mind. When Andre prods him for more details about what ‘stank’ means, the man proceeds to demonstrate, and after a moment of pure Rock-onian contempt, belts out what the guy is looking for, with a lot of Stank.
A sequel of sorts to 2 Days in Paris, this one sees Marion (Julie Delpy) moving from France to New York and finding love in the arms of Marcus (Rock), a journalist and radio host, though that love is tested when Marion’s father, sister and sister’s boyfriend arrive for, you guessed it, 2 days. A talkie film with lots of relationship conversations, the highlight comes when Marcus has a talk with President Obama. But not the President Obama, no, this is a life-sized cardboard cutout they keep in their tiny apartment. Speaking as if the prop was a real person, Marcus engages in a full on monologue, extolling the benefits of being single, the memories of those days and much more. It’s funny, touching, and some of Rock’s best work ever on screen. See this movie.
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