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Another run for movie stardom

March 24, 2003|Robert W. Welkos

It's hard to believe that comedian Chris Rock made his feature film debut way back in 1987 in "Beverly Hills Cop II." Whether it's playing an overzealous cop with Mel Gibson in "Lethal Weapon 4" or "Down to Earth," in which he's a struggling stand-up comedian flattened by a truck, only to return to Earth in the body of a white millionaire, Rock always seems to be looking for the vehicle that can launch him into movie stardom.

He's still trying. This time he sets his sights on the highest office in the land in DreamWorks Pictures' comedy "Head of State," which opens Friday in more than 2,500 theaters. Rock plays Mays Gilliam, a Washington, D.C., alderman who, after the untimely death of the party front-runner is plucked from obscurity as the nominee for president. Comedian Bernie Mac, who stars in his own TV sitcom, plays Rock's brother.

In addition to starring, Rock directed, co-wrote and co-produced "Head of State."

The plot sounds reasonably funny, but it remains to be seen whether Rock, known for his biting stand-up routines -- such as his breakthrough 1996 HBO special, "Bring the Pain" -- can translate his potent brand of humor into mainstream movie success. His theatrical efforts -- from "CB4" to "Down to Earth" and last year's "Bad Company" -- have proved disappointing, but perhaps this new campaign will elect the talented Rock to movie stardom.

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