Dave Chappelle's Block Party

 
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Written by:Dave Chappelle
Released: May 4, 2006
Grade: B

On 18 September 2004, Dave Chappelle threw a street party in Brooklyn.  He invited some prominent African American artists to perform and gave tickets to people in the area and from his home in Ohio.  Both the lead-up and the concert itself were filmed a documentary crew led by director Michel Gondry and cinematographer Ellen Kuras.  Dave Chappelle’s Block Party is the end result.

For those who don’t know Dave Chappelle, he’s a 33-year-old comedian who got his start in the entertainment industry with small acting roles in films such as The Nutty Professor, Con Air and You’ve Got Mail.  His notoriety rocketed in 2003 when he started a television show on Comedy Central (seen here in Australia on the Comedy Channel) called Chappelle’s Show.  It’s a sketch show often filled with controversial jokes about the cultural differences in society.

I’m not sure what Chappelle’s motivation for making this film is but I’ll speculate and suggest that he just wanted to throw a big party.  The performers include Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots, Cody ChesnuTT, Big Daddy Kane, and The Fugees.  These names mean little to me but I’m sure they’ll gain the attention of some who will now think this is a must see film.

Considering that the music wasn’t a great attraction to me, I was hoping that a few laughs from Dave Chappelle would make the film worthwhile.  The comedy isn’t too bad but you wouldn’t call it outstanding.  The skits on Chappelle’s television show are funnier than what’s on offer here.

The most curious aspect of the film is that it has been directed by Michel Gondry, the same man who directed Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (my favourite film of 2004).   This is Gondry’s first film since Eternal Sunshine and I’m surprised by his choice to shoot a documentary.  Based on his previous films and music videos, I believe Gondry is one of the world’s most talented and original filmmakers.  The documentary style doesn’t give him the chance to showcase his creativity.