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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » CB4
CB4
Universal // R // January 7, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

An occasionally hilarious 1993 parody of the rap music industry, "CB4" stars Chris Rock as MC Gusto, one part of the rap group CB4 (Cell Block 4). As the film begins, documentary filmmaker A. White (Chris Elliot) sits down to show the group (which also includes Deezer D. as Otis a.k.a. Stab Master Arson, and Allen Payne as Euripides Smalls a.k.a. Dead Mike) a rough cut of his documentary. As the documentary opens, we learn more about the rap group's history, as they came up from a middle-class background to become one of the world's most popular and most dangerous groups. When the criminal whose persona Gusto stold (Charlie Murphy) breaks out of jail, the group finds themselves in some serious trouble.

Plot isn't exactly the film's strongest point, but CB4 still manages to succeed as a good-hearted parody of rap, stringing together enough amusing situations to carry it along. The film's silly sense of humor also keeps things light and quick - the fact that the film doesn't take itself at all seriously helps quite a bit.

The film's performances are also quite good. A fairly early performance from Chris Rock doesn't show the kind of timing the comedian often shows in film and on stage today, but he still shows potential and plays the character's current state and earlier days superbly. Supporting performances from Allen Payne, Phil Hartman, Charles Murphy (Eddie's brother) and others are also solid, as well.

Although the low-budget film doesn't have much of a visual style, director Tamara Davis ("Billy Madison") handles the picture admirably, taking the same approach to the comedy that she did with "Half Baked", another cult favorite. The film is a little sloppy, a little rough, but overall, it works to the film's advantage.


The DVD

VIDEO: Universal presents "CB4" in both 1.33:1 full-frame and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. For a rather low-budget, 10-year-old picture, "CB4" looks pretty good, aside from a few minor faults. Sharpness and detail are generally standard, as the picture usually appeared crisp and clean, with only a few minor instances of noticable softness.

The presentation has a couple of flaws here and there, but nothing too bothersome. Minor edge enhancement is present in a few scenes, while the film shows some grain and a few specks and marks on occasion, too. No pixelation or any other artifacts are spotted.

SOUND: "CB4" is presented in Dolby Surround by Universal. The film's soundtrack isn't half bad, although the only area where it's not completely dialogue-driven is when the music comes in.

EXTRAS: Trailer and recommendations.

Final Thoughts: While it starts to wear a little thin at times, "CB4" is often a very funny parody of the rap industry that also occasionally takes on - if lightly - issues like "free speech". Universal's DVD is a basic effort, but the price isn't bad and the presentation quality is pretty respectable. Recommended.

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