Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (review)

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You don’t have to be a fan of hip-hop or even of Dave Chappelle’s comedy to get a huge kick out of this expansive, generous, get-up-and-dance film. Michel (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) Gondry followed the standup comic around as he planned a free block party and outdoor concert for a Brooklyn neighborhood and — more amusingly — as Chappelle invited a handful of ordinary folks from his small Ohio hometown to take a bus trip to the ‘hood for the festivities. I’d have liked to have seen more about what the Ohioans, black and white, made of Bed-Stuy, but I was easily distracted by the danceable music — supplied by Mos Def, Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, the Roots, Kanye West, and lots of others — and by the bighearted spirit and hospitable kookiness of everyone involved, from the colorful local characters to the famous musicians. The film is, perhaps, a tad too long, spinning its wheels a bit in some sections, but without being self-conscious about it, Gondry highlights the soulful — pun intended — power of Chappelle’s vision.

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