This is how comedies are supposed to be made. Nobody got $20 million just to show up. No special software was developed. No elaborate props or sets were built. And, most important, no studio executives or marketing yabbos seem to have been involved. So the creators of Pootie Tang were free to hire their funny friends, put on silly outfits, and devote every bit of energy and every frame of film to delivering as many jokes as possible—fresh, unexpectedly joyous jokes. In this way, Louis C.K.’s first feature is reminiscent of Woody Allen’s sublime Take the Money and Run. Only time will tell how apt the comparison is, but I doubt that C.K. will ever stoop to the level of Stardust Memories. A former stand-up and television writer for Letterman, Conan, and Chris Rock, C.K. wisely wastes no time on such comic irrelevancies as cinematography, opting instead for lively, if odd, blocking and sharp, clever editing. His sole direction to actors seems to have been “Go nuts!” Even the soundtrack is in on the joke, with various hiphoppers embracing Pootie’s bizarre lingo. As created and embodied by Lance Crouther, a writer on Rock’s HBO show—where the character first appeared—Pootie is a mythical man-child hero, a black Buckaroo Banzai who can out-Matrix The Matrix, out-Vandross Luther, and outscore Shaft with the ladies—all while delivering meaningful proclamations such as “Sine your pity on the runny kine.” Rock is all over the production, gloriously hamming it up in several roles, including that of Pootie’s father, who delivers the film’s family-values message: One needs “to have respect to get respect.” First and foremost, Rock & Co. respect the audience, proving that stupid comedies don’t have to insult humanity. (Full disclosure: A friend of mine, local actor Chuck Jeffreys, appears in this film.) —Dave Nuttycombe