Review: Dave Chappelle’s Block Party

Going to the movies as often as we do, I thought I would start offering my own reviews here for you.

“Dave Chappelle’s Block Party”
Run Time: 1:43

On September 18, 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle threw a secret block party in New York, but there was a trick – if you wanted to go you had to register online, wait in Chinatown for a bus to transport you to a secret location and there was no information on who was performing once you got there. Upon arrival in Brooklyn, concertgoers where treated to stellar performances by Chappelle and some of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B: Kanye West, The Roots, Talib Kweli, Common, Mos Def, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, and a reunion of The Fugees who hadn’t performed together since 1997.

The movie is part documentary, part concert movie and part Dave Chappelle just being himself with a camera crew following him. The thing that amazed me was that Chappelle financed a majority of the project out of his own pocket, including the charter bus transportation and lodging in NY for all of the people he normally comes in contact with in his hometown in Ohio (including the Central State University Band which he ran into).

Chappelle comes across as very grounded and totally accessible, but uncomfortable with his newfound celebrity. His interaction with the people in Ohio is funny from a purely innocent standpoint. He never mocks them, and you get the sense some of the people are aware of his stardom, but are more invested in their relationshps with Chappelle as a father and person, not the comedian. “Old people love me,” Chappelle remarks at one point, then cut to Chappelle sitting on a park bench and inviting an older white woman to the show. “You want to go to a rap show in Brooklyn?” he asks. “No, I’m going to Canada this weekend, but I love you” she says as she walks over to shake his hand. In typical Chappelle fashion he shakes her hand and asks, “You dodging the war?”

This movie is not what you think it is. It’s not a Dave Chappelle stand-up special. It’s not an extended rap video (if you’re not a rap/hip-hop fan don’t go). It’s a guy from Ohio that decides to throw a block party with his muscian friends for the whole neighborhood to enjoy….and “the 19 white people peppered into the crowd.”

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Rating: 4 out of 5

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