In his movies and on his TV show, Dave Chappelle comes across as a really nice guy -- a clever, funny and genial comedian who'd probably be a lot of fun to hang out with.
Chappelle exudes the same inclusive vibe throughout "Dave Chappelle's Block Party," director Michel Gondry's freewheeling documentary about the block party Chappelle decided to host in Brooklyn on September 18, 2004 -- an open concert featuring musical performances from the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Dead Prez, the reunited Fugees and some nobody named Kanye West, with the Roots acting as his house band.
Alternating footage of the show with handheld video of Chappelle wandering around his Ohio hometown a few days earlier, goofing around with the locals and inviting a number of them to come up to New York for the show, Gondry, who cut his teeth making music videos before graduating to features with "Human Nature" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," gives what might have been a fairly standard concert film a sense of indie edge that nicely compliments Chappelle's good-natured bantering.
What's never mentioned in the doc is that Chappelle threw the party shortly after signing a gargantuan renewal contract with Comedy Central for new seasons of his hit sketch series "Chappelle's Show" -- a contract estimated to be worth as much as $50 million.
Chappelle walked away from that deal -- and, apparently, from his show - about a year later, for reasons that still haven't been explained, but strangely the shadow of his future collapse doesn't hang over the movie for more than a couple of minutes. Everybody's having too much fun.
Universal is releasing the "Block Party" in three different DVD editions: The R-rated theatrical release arrives in a full-frame transfer, while the unrated, expanded cut is available in separate full-frame and enhanced-widescreen editions.
All three discs include "September in Brooklyn," a half-hour look behind the scenes of the "Block Party" documentary, offering extensive interviews with Chappelle and director Gondry, as well as several of the musical acts. A movie this on-the-fly and self-referential could easily have served as its own making-of, so this is a nice little extra.
Exclusive to the unrated discs is "Ohio Players," a 20-minute extended sequence that adds more detail to the experience of the marching band bused in by Chappelle to join the party (and, ultimately, to introduce Kanye West), as well as expanding on the larger atmosphere of Chappelle's beloved hometown.
Throw in the enhanced-widescreen presentation and the extra seven minutes of musical material, and the R-rated edition just sort of fades away in your mind, doesn't it?
STUDIO:Universal Studios Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE:June 13th
RATING:R / Unrated
TIME: 103 minutes (R) / 110 minutes (unrated)
DVD EXTRAS:English, French and Spanish subtitles; production
'Dave Chapelle's Block Party'
Comedian comes across as a guy who'd probably be a lot of fun to hang out with
'Dave Chapelle's Block Party'