It's pretty easy to tell that CB4 is Chris Rock the fledgling Saturday Night Live cast member, rather than Chris Rock the Oscars host. Not that Rock has ever mastered the screen the way he's mastered standup, but he's definitely still finding his footing here. His parody of gangsta rap is surprisingly toothless, which is counterintuitive, given all the gold dental work on display. Rock's co-writer, Robert LoCash, doesn't bring enough blatant silliness from his work on the final two Naked Gun movies, and Rock should have learned a thing or two by appearing in Keenen Ivory Wayans' I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! Maybe director Tamra Davis wanted CB4 to be more This Is Spinal Tap than Airplane!, but it's not nearly subtle enough to pull that off. The result is a boring middle ground between the outrageous and the sublime. Spoofs like the N.W.A rip-off "Straight Outta Locash" feel more like the work of Weird Al Yankovic than a sharp satirist, since the song uses N.W.A's same beat and lyric structure, and the original lyrics are so vulgar, they can't even be exaggerated for parody. Still, some details are pretty observant and funny. Character names like Stab Master Arson get the criminal posturing of early gangsta rap down perfectly, and for a film that came out in 1993, CB4 feels prophetic about real-world rap-related drive-bys like the deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. It also recognizes the ongoing reality that some of rap's biggest purported criminals grew up in some of suburbia's richest neighborhoods. Fans of Comedy Central will be interested to see the film's villain played by Eddie's brother Charlie Murphy, over ten years before he surfaced as a popular member of the Chappelle's Show ensemble.
by Derek Armstrong review