Making the Grades
With only weeks left until Election Tuesday, the Democrats are in trouble. Their candidate and his running mate are dead following a freak accident. Unwilling to concede the victory to Vice President Lewis (Nick Searcy), the party leader Bill Arnot (James Rebhorn) and his committee look for a quick replacement.
Working out of a street corner office in his rundown neighborhood, Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock) is a Washington D.C. alderman. He tackles issues like bus service, community crime and lost kittens. But this man of the people has problems of his own. His girlfriend Kim (Robin Givens) has just made a cantankerous exit. Fed up with playing secretary to a loser, she jumps ship when she fails to see anything in his career for her.
With one piece of bad luck following another, this unlikely stand-in is approached by Arnot to run for the country's highest office.
Mays, underdressed and inexperienced for heavy hitting politics, is outfitted with an expert election entourage. Debra Lassiter (Lynn Whitfield) is a by-the-books political advisor who hesitantly accepts the assignment to work with campaign manager, Martin Gellen (Dylan Baker). Rounding out the delegation is Nicki (Stephanie March), a tall, blonde worker who takes care of the intimate needs of the candidate and a body double (Ray Clark) who ensures Mays' safety. Hitting the road in a chartered bus, the group heads out on the promotion trail to win points in the polls.
But before long, Mays discovers all the public appearances, party hobnobbing and pre-written speeches don't reflect him. Finally, when his opponent unleashes a mudslinging ad blitz aimed at the upstart politician, Mays decides to take the driver's seat. He picks his brother, Mitch (Bernie Mac), a bail bondsman, for his running mate and together they begin an unorthodox bid for the White House.
Making his directorial debut, Rock takes a jab at back room wrangling and party partisanship associated with the presidential primary. But he also rekindles the ideal that even individuals can make a difference while pursuing their American Dream. Along the way this underdog from Ward 9 upsets the political machine and shakes up a roomful of stuffy supporters as he learns to stay true to his beliefs and the people he represents.
Unfortunately the script (which Rock co-wrote) contains a landslide of profanities. Brotherly punches, pedestrian accidents and security measures also push the limits of the film's slapstick comedy. With a platform full of content concerns, it's hard to give voter support for family viewing to this Head of State.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Head of State.
Mays is criticized for an 0x201Coff camera0x201D remark he made. Is it fair for politicians to be held responsible for personal comments? How does a public officials position affect their private life?
Can a politician 0x201Ctake care of everybody0x201D? What restraints do they face when meeting the needs of their constituents?
Is it important to dress for the job you want when looking for work? How do first impressions affect a job interview?