I'm not exactly what you would call a sentimental kind of person, and I tend to get a little 'gaggy' when it comes to the so-called touchy-feely things in life. But if there is one thing that makes me feel like a big old softy, it would be Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Now this is what I call a call a 'feel good movie' with everyone from the lady behind the counter at a liquor store to a *
The 2005 documentary was written and hosted by Chappelle with Michel Gondry behind the camera, and even if you aren't the biggest fan of soul and hip-hop music, you can't deny that you can practically feel the joy that seeps through every frame. The musical line-up included artists like Mos Def, The Roots, Common, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu. Chappelle even pulled off the impossible by getting The Fugees to perform onstage together for the first time in seven years.
*Correction: the marching band Chappelle brings along is the celebrated College band, The Central State University Marching Band.
It may have seemed like an unlikely combination of a smart-mouthed comedian and a French art-house director, but the movie works like a charm. Maybe because the film is without a drop of cynicism or anger and for a comedian who is usually associated with confrontational racial humor, Chappelle makes everyone feel welcome. It also probably didn't hurt that as a director, Gondry has a love for the more fantastical side of life -- and what could be more fantastic than a bunch of people getting together in the rain to watch the concert of a lifetime?
Block Party Fun Facts:
- The film was a tribute to the 1974 documentary, Wattstax -- a film that has one of the best tag-lines in recorded history: "100,000 brothers and sisters turning on to being black...telling it like it is!" (ahh, the 70's)
- Chappelle funded this project with his own money.
- The Fugee's musical performances were not included in the soundtrack due to legal problems with the groups record labels.