Best of the Decade, No. 97: Pootie Tang

“Sa da tay,” you say? This inscrutable Chris Rock-endorsed satire of blaxploitation superheroes ain’t the most coherent movie in town, but it invites the audience into a world governed by unstable rules. Wielding his father’s belt, the titular Tang (Lance Crowther) radiates an African-American “It” imperceptible to everybody except those on screen. In a favored 2000s theme, he battles the nasty forces of corporate America as incarnated in Robert Vaughn’s toupee. The low-budget comedy could have been made in somebody’s backyard and the gags evaporate about ten minutes before the end. Up until that point, though, this film made Squally laugh like a Paris sewer. It also provided an early showcase for the talents of Wanda Sykes and Jennifer Coolidge, indicating that despite the onscreen misogyny, Tang‘s gospel was all-inclusive. Written and directed by Louis C.K., whose auteurist command extended to doing the music, too. R. Kelly missed his chance, but his own 2000s masterpiece “Trapped in the Closet” took the Tang and ran with it.

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