Review: Dave Chappelle’s Block Party

MovieSteve rating:
Dave Chappelle and invitees
Dave Chappelle and invitees



Hot off Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, director Michel Gondry takes an abrupt left turn with a documentary about US comedian Dave Chappelle hosting a block party in Brooklyn, where the likes of Kanye West, the Fugees, Jill Scott, Mos Def and Erykah Badu rock the house. Gondry has previous directing music videos so it’s not so much of a stretch but the idea is unusual – we watch as Chappelle organises things, calling in favours from friends, putting the celebrity lock on people too timid to turn him down while a camera is rolling, but most of all he’s handing out tickets to just about anyone he runs across in Dayton, Ohio, the tickets being good for a bus ride, a room, food and entry to the block party in Brooklyn, New York. The action cuts between performances which you could characterise as relaxed, if you were feeling kind, Chappelle trying out his gags on the band in rehearsal and scenes shot in Ohio, where Chappelle is handing out the tickets. It’s nice, it’s a record of a pleasant day out had by a bunch of people who wouldn’t normally hang together. But, apart from being a fabulous testimonial to Chappelle, I suspect you really had to be there.

© Steve Morrissey 2006


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Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2005) Documentary, Comedy, Music | 103min | 3 March 2006 (USA) 7.2
Director: Michel GondryWriter: Dave ChappelleStars: Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey, Lauryn HillSummary: Dave Chappelle presents a Brooklyn neighborhood with its very own once-in-a-lifetime free block party. In addition to Chappelle, the roster of artists includes Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, the Roots, Cody ChesnuTT, Big Daddy Kane, and - reunited for their first performance in over seven years - the Fugees. Includes private rehearsals footage and Chappelle in the small Ohio town he calls home, where he wanders through town handing out golden tickets to invite several dozen citizens to join the party, providing transportation and lodging for their visit to Brooklyn. Ohio's Central State University marching band makes the trip and kicks off the festivities at the intersection of Quincy and Downing Streets. A diverse crowd and Chappelle's freestyle wit guides them (and us) through a celebration of music and comedy, history and community. Written by Focus Features


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