Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Rock, Allen Payne, Deezer D, Chris Elliott, Phil Hartman, Charlie Murphy, Khandi Alexander, Art Evans, Theresa Randle, Willard E. Pugh, Ty Granderson Jones, Rachel True, Victor Wilson, Richard Gant, J.D. Daniels, Stoney Jackson, Isaac Hayes
Written by: Chris Rock, Nelson George, Robert LoCash
Directed by: Tamra Davis
MPAA Rating: R for strong language, and for sexuality and drug content
Running Time: 89
Date: 03/12/1993

CB4 (1993)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Spinal Rap

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Seemingly designed as both a love letter to, and a parody of hip-hop, CB4 emerges as not being much of either, and only mildly funny. A documentary filmmaker (Chris Elliott) follows around a hardcore hip-hop group — consisting of MC Gusto (Chris Rock), Dead Mike (Allen Payne), and Stab Master Arson (Deezer D) — and wants to know their real story. After being shot at, Gusto, a.k.a. Albert, tells him. They're not hardcore at all, and are actually middle-class suburban kids who wanted to be famous. They see their chance when a local kingpin, the real Gusto (Charlie Murphy), is arrested and sent to jail, and Albert adopts not only his personality, but his name. They race up the charts with songs like "Straight Outta LoCash" and "Sweat of My Balls." But, of course, the real Gusto gets out and wants revenge. The long, rise-and-fall, pitfalls-of-fame stuff gets wearisome, but the songs are clever, and the soundtrack is great. Ty Granderson Jones as Gusto's hired muscle 40 Dog cracked me up, too. Ice-T, Halle Berry, Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, Shaquille O'Neal, and Eazy-E appear in cameos, and Phil Hartman and Isaac Hayes are in small roles. Kino Lorber released in Blu-ray for 2021, including a commentary track by the wonderful Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Joshua Nelson, a featurette, and trailers.

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