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MOVIE REVIEW

'Stark Raving Black': Comedian Lewis Black at his cranky best

He rants on a variety of subjects in the concert film that captures the best of his finger-stabbing, obscenity-laced comedic stylings.

October 08, 2009|Gary Goldstein

Lewis Black gets it right when, at the start of his concert film "Stark Raving Black," he suggests his audience lower their expectations "about 20%." The cranky funnyman seems well aware that his comic stylings might land the majority of the time, but -- as is the case with most stand-up routines -- not always.

Black's ranting and roiling shtick, shot over two performances this past August at Detroit's Fillmore Theatre, has, in fact, an impressive ratio of hits to misses. Numbers aside, his material makes for an entertaining, fast-moving and often very funny 80 minutes.

Black, who is also an actor, playwright, bestselling author and frequent contributor to "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," targets a wide range of topics here, which he delivers with his trademark tempest of exasperated irony, laced with heavy doses of profanity and finger-stabbing -- and the very rare smile.

Black's diatribes about turning 60 (let's just say he doesn't consider it "the new 40"), U.S. politics and iPhones, along with bits about his elderly parents, are among the film's highlights.

Visually, director Adam Dubin never gets beyond the basics, but that's OK. With Black front and center, there's diversion enough.

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'Stark Raving Black'

MPAA rating: Unrated

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Playing: At Mann's Chinese 6, Hollywood

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