Release Date: July 22nd, 2005 by Paramount Classics
The Cast: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji Heson, DJ Qualls, Ludacris
Directed by Craig Brewer.
BASIC PREMISE: Djay (Howard), a troubled hustler, wants to strike it rich and live a more stable life by recording rap music.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: There is so much style throughout this film that it is very difficult not to be entertained. Although the plot is very simple and unsurprising, everything else including the cinematography, the music, the editing, and--especially--the acting make for a very exciting film. The cinematography is slick and flashy at times, but always brings out the energy and life in every scene. The soundtrack so good that you will want to rush out of the movie just to buy it after it is over--especially if you are into rap music. Even if you are not, it is still very interesting to watch how Djay and his friends gradually make a popular rap song. It is not as easy as one would think--especially because Key (Anderson), one of the rappers, has a prude wife who does not respect his lifestyle nor his friends. Once they record their song on a tape, the rest of the movie is focused on Djay's endeavor to get the attention of Skinny Black, a popular rap singer, so that he can hear it and help to promote it. There is some violence and profanity, but nothing too excessive or graphic. However, there is obviously plenty of drug use. Terrence Howard should at least get a nomination for Best Actor in a Lead Role. It is too early in the year to determine if he will win, but at least he will get his recognition after his bold, amazing performance in this film. DJ Qualls as a white rapper is hilarious in his own off-beat, bizarre way. Most of the film is a drama that works well because of its likeable characters who want to succeed. Even Nola (Manning), who is a prostitute, becomes part of Djay's music business life as his manager. By the end of the film, you won't be able to get their rap song, "Whoop That Trick", out of your head.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Despite being a film about low-lifes, there are actually some uplifting moments. It is uplifting to watch these characters risk everything while putting their hearts and minds into one rap song. It takes a lot of courage, personality and luck to succeed but the most important quality to have is talent, which they definitely have. When Djay meets up with Skinny Black at a club, he realizes a lot of harsh truths about the world of rap music. At one point, Nola confesses to Djay that she is sick of living the life of a prostitute. She wants meaning and stability just as much as Djay wants it. It is a joy to watch so much talent come together for one very memorable song.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Although the ending is satisfying, it feels a little contrived and predictable.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite a thin and predictable plot, it is a highly-entertaining and energetic film with a wonderful soundtrack, a strong and memorable perfomance by Terrance Howard, and it is directed with plenty of style.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "H" Menu