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Easily as raw as Eddie Murphy’s old routines, but hardly half as delirious, The Original Kings of Comedy — Spike Lee’s crossover hit of a stand-up concert film — is profane but not provocative. Its stars each work the same terrain: gags (gentle and gratingly lame) about race, and coarse bits about sex, parenting, and poverty. Sometimes these are resonant low-down blues; sometimes they’re just low — bordering on the crudeness that Lee decried as minstrelsy last year in Bamboozled.

The problem comes into stark relief in The Queens of Comedy, a distaff version that might as well be called How Stella Got Her #@*! Back. The performers try both to foster a vibe of sisterly respect and to talk about the sex act in the least self-respectful way possible. Mo’Nique, the portly costar of UPN’s The Parkers, riffs at length on the sexual superiority of ”fat bitches.” Is this in the tradition of the great Moms Mabley? Sure. Does it rise to the sophistication of Married … With Children? Rarely. So who’s the joke on? Kings: B- Queens: C-

What We Said Then: ”…the jokes [in Kings] ultimately pile up into an orgy of racial generalities.” B- (#555/556, August 18/25, 2000) — Owen Gleiberman

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The Original Kings of Comedy

2000 PARAMOUNT 115 MINUTES RATED R ALSO ON DVD

The Queens of Comedy

2001 PARAMOUNT 79 MINUTES RATED R ALSO ON DVD

The Original Kings of Comedy

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
  • R
runtime
  • 115 minutes
director
  • Spike Lee

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