If you're not familiar with comedian Katt Williams, it's a bit hard to describe him--as evidenced by the pull quotes used on the packaging for his latest DVD, American Hustle The Movie. Jet magazine says that Williams is "...one of today's most popular comedians." I would agree with that. Meanwhile, someone over at Rolling Stone calls Williams "the next Richard Pryor." Now this statement I have problems with, because while Williams is funny, there will never--and I mean never ever--be a next or another or any other Richard Pryor. But both of these quotes are prime examples of how difficult it is to describe Williams in a way that is easily palatable to the mainstream public, without being offensive. But I'm not worried about that, so I'll describe the comedian in a way that sums it up perfectly: Katt Williams is a funny-ass motherf**ker.
Aside from his scene-stealing appearance in the disappointing Friday After Next, Williams has yet to really turn in a memorable performance, or be in a movie that comes remotely close to having merit (sorry, Treasure in the Hood sucked). But anyone who caught his HBO special The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1 will tell you that Williams can hold it down on stage. Pimp Chronicles established Williams as a comedic forced to be reckoned with, places his in the same league as performers like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. American Hustle attempts to recapture the thunder of Pimp Chronicles, but I suspect that much like Chris Rock's Bring the Pain, Pimp Chronicles may prove to be Williams crowning achievement.
American Hustle starts off a bit awkwardly as an actual movie, starring Williams as himself, going to a meeting with some Hollywood executives that are pitching him on various film ideas. This is basically a short intro film much like the one in Eddie Murphy's Raw that is meant to set the tone for what's to come, but in Raw this was a brief moment, and in American Hustle it is an entire thirty minutes. The result is a mildly amusing sequence that recalls Hollywood Shuffle, but doesn't really go anywhere. There are a few fantasy moments of Williams starring in 3, a take on 300, and Brokeback Penguins, which is funny in a Saturday Night Live way. But the whole mini-movie intro is just a weird excuse to set up the premise that Katt Williams is sick of the bullshit in Hollywood, and decides to go back on the road with some other comics, which leads to the final hour of American Hustle, which is what we wanted in the first place.
As a comedian, Williams is about as dirty and profane as they get. If he says a sentence with ten words in it, at least three of those words will be swears. Where Williams really shines is in the way he moves around on the stage, and the physical aspect of his show. He isn't afraid to prowl around on the stage, and he uses a wooden stool as a prop that doubles for everything from a crocodile to one of his many sexual conquests. The majority of his routine is his talking about sex and women--he is, after all, a pimp--and if you are easily offended by someone talking about copulating with a woman until she defecates, this is not something you will be wanting to watch. But if you like that sort of stuff, or if you like Williams, you should have a good time with the final hour of the DVD. Just keep in mind--especially if you're a fan--that when Williams is funny, he's really funny, but he is seldom funnier than he was in Pimp Chronicles, which was a pretty much genius.
Katt Williams: American Hustle the Movie is presented in 1:33.1 widescreen. The picture quality is good, both during the opening mini-movie and the concert, with consistency throughout.
Katt Williams: American Hustle the Movie is presented in stereo. The sound is a bit disappointing at times, and has trouble with drop-outs, varying levels, and at one point, during a particular joke, you can hear someone talking over Williams. It sounds almost as if there was another voice coming through his wireless microphone.
The "blooper reel" seems more like extended scenes, alternate takes or outtakes then what I would consider a blooper, which is someone messing up a take; but maybe I'm just nitpicking. Whatever the case, the "blooper reel" is nothing to be impressed with. There are also extended versions of 3 and Brokeback Penguins, but they do not include fully rendered CGI backgrounds, so for the most part they are played against greenscreen. Overall, the extras are throwaways worth watching once, and then left to be quickly forgotten.
If you like Katt Williams, you'll want to watch this, but keep in mind that it is not as good as Pimp Chronicles. If you've never seen Williams perform real stand up, keep in mind he is a foul-mouthed motherf**ker, and as long as you're cool with that, you should enjoy the show.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]