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An unlikely contender for President, Mays Gilliam, Chris Rock, is an alderman who represents the people of a rundown area of Washington DC where he grew up. A Presidential election is looming, and when a major political party (unnamed) loses its candidates for both President and Vice President in a plane crash, wily powerbroker, Senator Bill Arnot, James Rebhorn, decides to propose a candidate with no hope of winning so that, in another four years, he'll be in the top spot himself. To his amazement, Mays is chosen, and at first his minders, Dylan Baker and Lynn Whitfield, make sure he behaves like a politician should. But Mays' brother, Mitch, Bernie Mac, who becomes his running mate, persuades him to speak out on the issues in which he truly believes. There are some interesting ideas at the heart of this Chris Rock vehicle but you get the impression that, like Mays in the early stages of his campaign, Rock's personality is being softened for the film, his savage, abrasive satire diluted so that no-one can be seriously offended. There's certainly room for some good political satire in the cinema at the moment, and Head of State, though it has its moments, isn't really it.

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