by Jeff Fitzgerald

copyright © 2003 Jeff Fitzgerald

Martin Lawrence as Louis Armstrong. We open to the strains of Moby's remix of the Fatboy Slim sample of the Chemical Brothers' remix of "West End Blues." Pops is rolling a fatty and contemplating switching from coronet to Sousaphone, for its inherent bong qualities. Enter Queen Latifah, as Lil, who persuades him to quit his day job as a barista at the 1920's equivalent of Starbucks, also named for a character in Moby Dick (Queequeg), and become the father of jazz. He agrees, but only after being convinced that it won't cost him anything out-of-pocket. Cut to an exceedingly gratuitous (but tasteful) nude scene by the just-turned-18 Olsen twins, playing Johnny Dodds and Earl "Fatha" Hines, who are seeking to put their child-star roots way, way behind them.

"But Pops," pleads Bix Beiderbecke (played by Tom Cruise in a desperate-Oscar-plea cameo), "what about the music?"

Fade into a Matrix-style montage of Pops and Jackie Chan (as Jack Teagarden) overcoming racism by kicking everyone in Brooklyn. A young Jackie Robinson (rapper Lil' Bow Wow) is forever changed by the spectacle.

Enter Joe Glaser (James "Tony Soprano" Gandolfini), who threatens to rub out anyone who tries to stop Pops from becoming jazz's preeminent spokesman and forever changing the face of American music.

Here, we have stock footage of World War II and the Olsen twins in nurse's outfits to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Moving along: Pops sparks another blunt, and the '50s pass without notice.

Now the'60s! Revolution is in the air! Or is that just drifting reefer smoke from the last scene? No matter! Pops defeats Orville Faubus (Billy Bob Thornton), coming off the canvas in the 11th to score a heroic last-second KO in the 15th (WBO rules, fighter cannot be saved by the bell), and in celebration, sings "What A Wonderful World." This inspires a young Ken Burns (Erik Per Sullivan) to make 20-hour movies about just whatever comes to mind.

Enter Halle Berry, as Lucille (Pop's last wife, or B.B. King's guitar. It doesn't matter, it's Halle Berry). She and Pops settle into an idyllic existence in their little dreamhouse in Queens, where she is frequently topless for no good reason.

In a gripping climax, Pops dies of a heart attack (Chris Tucker) leaving Miles Davis (also Chris Tucker) to carry on. And oh! how he carries on. Lucille comes to terms with her grief by racing Vin Diesel (Keith Jarrett) through downtown L.A. in hyper-slammed Honda Civics to the Dan the Automator mix of "Up A Lazy River." Afterwards, they all take a shower.

Now, we sit back and just try not to win Academy Awards. Or, more likely, Golden Globes (Jennifer Love Hewitt).

C o m m e n t s

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