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Block Party
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 from 7,522 votes
Release: 3 March 2006 (USA) /

Block Party

Genre: Comedy, Documentary, Music, Musical
Director: Michel Gondry,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: 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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Critic Reviews


I just saw the premiere screening of "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film was introduced by director Michel Gondry as a work in progress.

The concept is simple: In the summer of 2004, Dave Chappelle, on the heels of the success of his unfortunately now-ill-fated TV show, decided to throw himself a big party. So he recruited his favorite artists (Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Cody Chesnutt, John Legend, The Roots, and a reunited Fugees - not to mention guest shots by Big Daddy Kane and Kool Herc) to play an old-school style block party in Brooklyn. The film chronicles this party, intercutting riveting performance footage with backstage antics and a documentary that chronicles Dave's efforts in organizing the event, during which he not only tries to lure Brooklynites to the top-secret show, but also, by issuing a series of Willy Wonka-style golden tickets, a variety of people from all races and walks of life in the rural Ohio town where he lives. It's a trip to watch the older white folks from Ohio, who've never listened to a hip-hop record in their lives, having a blast at a Block Party in the heart of Bed Stuy.

Long story short, the result is not only hands-down the best hip-hop concert film ever made, but also a genuinely moving piece of film-making that somehow nearly brought me to tears in parts. Fundamentally, this is a heart-warming tribute to the power of hip-hop, just as 'A Great Day In Harlem' was for jazz and 'Woodstock' and 'The Last Waltz' were for rock n' roll. Though there was certainly some roughness in the sound mix and image quality at this particular screening, the vitality of the film was evident in spades. Not to sound too corny, but this is a piece of work that celebrates the human spirit - a bright light in the midst an arguably cynical cultural landscape.

The concert itself is amazing - a hip-hop show filled with the kind of moments of spontaneity usually only seen in rock concerts. You can see how the artists here are all friends, and they keep it loose and ego-free, often jumping onstage with one another during the course of the show, to marvellous effect. Some notable highlights: a spine-tingling version of Kanye West's 'Jesus Walks', performed with a full marching band that Dave invites from an Ohio college; the reunion of Black Star for an almost trip-hoppy rendition of 'Definition' that I desperately now want a recording of; Dead Prez's blistering version of 'Hip-Hop'; Erykah Badu ripping off her afro weave mid-set when the wind becomes a bit too unforgiving; Mos Def's late-night improv version of 'Umi Says' (and when he joins Dave on drums for an impromptu comedy set); Big Daddy Kane jumping onstage with The Roots and positively electrifying the dumbfounded crowd; and, of course, the headlining act, The Reunited Fugees - particularly Lauryn Hill's stirring vocals on 'Killing Me Softly'.

Anyway, enough praise. Long story short, at this screening the audience exploded with thunderous applause as soon as the incomplete end credits came up, and a few people were even stirred out of their seats for a standing O - something I've never really seen at the screening of a rough cut.

Check this out when it comes to DVD. It'll make you feel good.

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