All of Tracy Jordan’s Movies from ‘30 Rock,’ Ranked
In the pilot episode of 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin’s GE executive Jack Donaghy has been assigned to oversee The Girlie Show, a sketch show that’s flailing. His suggestion? Hire Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), a mentally unstable former film superstar who still has a sizable audience despite his recent personal missteps. TGS creator Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) hates that idea: Tracy makes the sort of bottom-feeding comedies she doesn’t respect. But over 30 Rock’s seven-season run, she and Tracy became good friends — and viewers were treated to tantalizing hints about the terrible films he was in before TGS, not to mention the terrible ones he made after signing on to the series.
Obviously, none of us have seen Tracy’s made-up movies. But that’s not going to stop me from speculating on which ones were the best. Basing my rankings on the flimsiest of information — a poster, a tagline, sometimes just a title — I shall fearlessly count down these films’ potential greatness. Of the 18 flicks below, how many of them would I actually want to see?
Oh, at least two of them.
Black Cop/White Cop
Contrary to common assumption, Jefferson wasn’t actually Tracy’s first attempt to get serious on screen. Look no further than Black Cop/White Cop which, based on its poster, at least appears to be a drama? Playing dual roles, including one in ridiculous whiteface, he’s two different policemen, and according to the tagline, “One does the duty, the other gets the booty.”
So, wait: Is one cop really good at his job, and the other isn’t? Or is it just one character, but at some point he goes in disguise as the other? There’s no chance it’s a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation, right? Not only does Black Cop/White Cop look terrible, I’m totally confused by its concept. Almost makes you want to see the actual film to find out what it’s about. Almost.
Honky Grandma Be Trippin’
We only see a brief clip from this movie, which seems to be Tracy’s hacky rip-off of Big Momma’s House, but one thing has always confused me: Why are all those people throwing stuff at him? Why is everybody mad at Honky Grandma?! Regardless, TGS writer Frank (Judah Friedlander) is a big fan of Honky Grandma Be Trippin’, which apparently has Tracy playing multiple roles. Who knows who the other characters are, but they can’t possibly be as ridiculous-looking as Honky Grandma, right? Actually, don’t answer that.
Remember the cavemen from the Geico ads? Remember how that got turned into a TV show? This is like that, except it’s a movie.
A Blaffair to Rememblack
At some point before TGS, Tracy did a remake of An Affair to Remember. Would you want a tear-jerking romantic drama starring Tracy Jordan? Neither would I.
Why was this comedy not a hit? Maybe because of dialogue like this: “I’m getting too old for this ship.”
Inspired by the knowledge that he’s related to America’s third president, Tracy decides to make a biopic about Thomas Jefferson, casting himself in all the major roles, male and female. Not surprisingly, GE head Don Geiss (Rip Torn) thinks this is an awful idea — he was more excited when he mistakenly thought Tracy wanted to do a big-screen adaptation of The Jeffersons — and Tracy’s hastily put-together trailer does nothing to dissuade him, forcing Tracy to make the movie himself. Obviously, Jefferson would be terrible, but at least it would have had a lot of cool explosions.
The Chunks and The Chunks 2: A Very Chunky Christmas
Clearly a goof on Eddie Murphy’s multiple characters in The Nutty Professor and its sequels, The Chunks 2: A Very Chunky Christmas is the crappy family comedy Tracy tries to get buried once his acclaimed indie drama Hard to Watch starts building Oscar buzz. (To extend the Murphy analogy, you could also argue that The Chunks 2 is a commentary on Norbit, which hit theaters around the same time that Murphy’s Oscar-nominated turn in Dreamgirls was being hyped.) Morgan, who’s buddies with Murphy, swore the comic legend wasn’t offended, but that doesn’t make me any more enthused about the prospect of hanging out with the Chunk family.
Samurai I Amurai
Or is that I Am Awry? Regardless, Tracy went to Japan to film this movie. The punny title makes me think it’s maybe a period action-comedy? I wonder if he did this before or after Who Dat Ninja.
Tracy Jordan’s Aunt Phatso Goes to the Hospitals Goes to Jail and Tracy Jordan’s Aunt Phatso’s Jack Donaghy’s We At It Again
Imagine Jack’s shock and hurt feelings when he learns that he’s the inspiration behind the evil businessman character in Aunt Phatso Goes to the Hospitals Goes to Jail. But what’s even more surprising is, apparently, Tracy has another franchise beyond Honky Grandma in which he dresses up as a woman. These films look ghastly, but at least they’ve got a colorful villain. Also, in terms of memorable catchphrases, it’s hard to top “Respect these boobies!”
Did Tracy ever star in any horror films? My hunch is that’s what Death Bank is, based solely on its tagline: “Money is the root of all evil.” Going out on a limb, I’m going to guess that this movie was about a haunted bank that contains money that kills people. Alternate title for my proposed film: Permanent Withdrawal.
Perhaps Don Geiss’ favorite Tracy Jordan picture, Fat Bitch found the comic playing a man who, for some reason, gets turned into a dog named Coco. Despite the fact that Coco dies at the end, Geiss tries to convince Jordan to make a sequel rather than financing Jordan’s dream project, Jefferson. Maybe it’s the can’t-miss tagline — “She’s off the leash” — but Fat Bitch remains one of Jordan’s most popular opuses. After all, when he watches the pre-obit tribute that NBC has made about him, the Fat Bitch films are listed first on his résumé. (And we’ll never forget the fake Criterion cover.)
I Did Your Wife
In the episode in which the world finds out that Tracy isn’t the womanizer that he pretends to be, he freaks out that his faithfulness to his wife is going to hurt his bad-boy image. Sure enough, as soon as Frank discovers the truth, he feels betrayed, dismayingly giving Tracy back a DVD copy of his movie I Did Your Wife. Honestly, if you can’t trust Tracy Jordan to make a good sex comedy, who can you trust?
We know almost nothing about this film, but it definitely looks like one of Tracy’s lowest-common-denominator comedies, starring him as a variation on the world-famous detective — albeit one who’s a lot hornier than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original. Fun fact: According to the poster that hangs on the wall of Tracy’s TGS dressing room, Sherlock Homie was directed by John Riggi, an actual 30 Rock writer who helmed episodes of that show, as well as worked on The Larry Sanders Show and Modern Family. So maybe it’s not terrible? Regardless, it has to be better than actual terrible Sherlock Holmes comedy Holmes & Watson.
Garfield 3: Feline Groovy
This is the motion-capture family film that Tracy is making when he decides he needs to start doing more substantial dramas. It’s unclear if Garfield 3: Feline Groovy ever was completed — maybe the producers recast his lead role after he walked away? — but still, we’ll always savor Tracy wearing a goofy mo-cap suit while yelling at an adorable kid who’s playing Nermal.
Who Dat Ninja
Set in New York City, Who Dat Ninja appears to be an action-comedy in which a regular guy ends up becoming a ninja, maybe to protect his family or save the day or something? (I’m totally guessing.) But of the four movies whose posters adorn the walls of Tracy’s dressing room — which include Sherlock Homie, Fat Bitch and Black Cop/White Cop — this seems to be the least objectionable. Plus, in an AMA interview on Reddit, Morgan himself expressed his preference for ninjas over pirates: “Why ninjas? Stealth. Pirates you can see them coming.”
In the early 2000s, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in a forgettable comedy called Snow Dogs. Years later, Tracy took over the franchise, but the producers got the bright idea to name the fifth installment 5now Dog5, which just confuses everyone. Still, Tracy Jordan and a bunch of huskies: You’d watch that, right?
Mentioned as one of Tracy’s hit films before the comic’s appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, President Homeboy deserved more attention on 30 Rock than it received. Tracy as the president? And not Thomas Jefferson? That actually sounds pretty funny.
Hard to Watch
A satire of awards-bait dramas — especially ones starring comedians trying to show off their serious side — Hard to Watch wasn’t just a throwaway joke but actually became part of 30 Rock’s overall storyline, as Tracy pursues artistic credibility by winning an EGOT. For that, he can thank Dot Com (Kevin Brown) and Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) for talking him into doing this project — which, as we all know, was based on the book Stone Cold Bummer by Manipulate, a snide play on Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, a real Oscar-winner about Black poverty.
Hard to Watch is meant to be a commentary on the kinds of movies that attempt to equate human suffering with searing drama, but it’s telling that, in comparison to most of the dreck Tracy has put his name on, this film actually seems… pretty good? Or maybe I’m just a sucker for any movie in which the protagonist has to overcome the childhood trauma of learning that his mother has exploded.