Directed by Tamra Davis. Starring Chris Rock, Deezer D, Allen Payne, Phil Hartman, Chris Elliott. (1993)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 19, 1993
From the director of Guncrazy -- a smart, funny movie with an abundance of firepower and cool music -- comes this alleged parody of the rap music genre -- a confused, unfunny film with a few guns and some decent tunes. As CB4 (the CB stands for Cell Block), Saturday Night Live's Chris Rock and company are the hottest rap group in the world, an NWA “gangsta rap” rip-off oozing the prerequisite amounts of street tough sass, misogyny, and devil-may-care, screw-the-police attitude. The joke is, they are actually none of those things, having appropriated the attitude to cover up their decidedly middle-class backgrounds. Rock, who's taken up the moniker M.C. Gusto, allows filmmaker Chris Elliot to hang out with him for a day and see what the dreaded CB4 is all about. Even guest appearances by Eazy E, Ice Cube, Ice T, and Austin legends the Butthole Surfers (!) fail to add any bite to this amazingly weak satire. Rock, who says in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly that he chose this project because it was “the blackest thing I could do,” appears not to have noticed that this is one of the most white-bread comedies of the last year. Annoyingly edited into a repetitive series of flashbacks that repeatedly undermine the film's narrative drive, CB4 can't seem to make up it's mind whether it wants to be the new This is Spinal Tap! -- and skewer the often silly world of gangsta rap right through its bloated wallet -- or just another Ha Ha chucklefest. As it turns out, it's neither. Resolutely lame in all the wrong places, CB4 is nowhere near the witty satire it purports to be. It's just another unamusing Hollywood miscue, my brother.