Picks and Pans Review: Cb4

updated 03/29/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

Chris Rock

Rail-thin and with a voice that sounds like a strangled falsetto, the 26-year-old Rock has been an intense but remote presence in movies and on Saturday Night Live. He is even harder to get a lake on in this sporadically enjoyable comedy: He plays a nondescript middle-class kid named Albert Brown who disappears behind dark glasses, black hat, kinky wig and gold-capped teeth, reinventing himself as the lead rapper of a band called CB4, as in Cell Block 4.

Gusto, Rock's nom de hip-hop, is "borrowed" from an imprisoned nightclub impresario and drug kingpin, played by Charlie Murphy (Eddie's look-alike brother). Murphy's fury over this theft provides the movie with what slight plot it has or really needs. Like Wayne's World, it's basically a grab bag, a larky, conscientiously stupid series of gags, music-video parodies, vulgarities (the film's finest five minutes is a very bawdy hotel-room scene), dream sequences and pop cross-references (to The Jeffersons and Spike Lee movies).

All of this moves along smartly enough, and it's unassuming and mildly funny. As for rap's more controversial aspects, well, the movie manages to send up misogyny and obscene language even while being misogynistic and foulmouthed. (R)

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