Sometimes something is popular despite what the critics have to say about it, other times it creates polarizing viewpoints, and still in other scenarios, you will see critic support and fandom and something still doesn’t get recognition.
But that’s okay, cause this weeks film has got something to say.
Straight Outta Compton (2015)
Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti
Director: F. Gary Gray
released on blu-ray January 19, 2016
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Audience Score 93%
The Guardian: ****/*****
Felix Gary Gray is an American music video director, film director & producer, and sometimes actor. Gray directed has directed a number of influential films including Friday, Set It Off, The Negotiator, and The Italian Job remake.
Did I also mention that he is going to be at the helm of the next the Fast and the Furious franchise entry (tentatively called Fast 8)???
So you know I’m not going to go easy on him, right? Or should I say eazy? That franchise is one of the most coveted pieces of cinema culture at the moment, and it happens to be one of my favourites, if you haven’t been following Cross Talk yet…
Let’s take a peek under the hood before we give an assessment.
The movie open with Easy-E (Jason Mitchell) in the middle of a bad drug deal that has been raided by the police. He barely escapes arrest. Then we meet Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) who is listening to records in his room. His mom wants him to get a better job instead of DJing at a local club. He decides to move out and tells his brother he will take him to Miami when he makes it. Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) is writing rhymes on the bus. He witnesses some kids flash gang signs at Crenshaw Mafia before the gang pulls the bus over and threatens the kid at fault.
Cube gets off at the house where Dre is staying and tells him about his day before sharing his new rhymes. On his way home the police stop him and search him for drugs.
Jump to Doo-Tos Club, where we see Dre and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) spinning for Lonzo, who hates rap and yells at Dre for letting Cube have a set. E has come there with MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and tells Dre to keep at it. Dre then asks E to consider backing his music.
After a fight outside the club parking lot, the police arrest Dre, but E posts bail. They decide to start up Ruthless Records, and try recording with a group before the group bails because they hate Cube’s lyrics. Cube can’t record because he is already in a group, but Dre convinces E to do it.
Boyz n the Hood becomes the #1 record and gets the attention of manager Jerry Heller (Paul Giamati) who partners with E to build a business.
Fast forward a couple years, and the group is performing in Skateland. Easy-E gets the group to wear matching black and we find out that record executives are in the audience. They all pass exception for Bryan Turner (Tate Ellington) from Priority Records. They agree to sign with him and start to record Straight Outta Compton.
After a break from recording the group is outside and harassed by LAPD, while Jerry watches, helpless. The song Fuck tha Police is born. We also learn that only E has a contract currently.
While on tour the group play packed arenas, have tons of parties, and deal with groupies. They also get a cease-and-desist for Fuck tha Police from the FBI. We also start to see tension over the lack of contracts, especially from Cube. Dre doesn’t seem worried.
But then we learn that Dre’s brother has been killed in a fight and feels responsible for not bringing him on tour. His mom tells him otherwise, and the group gets back on tour.
Then the movie shows us the legendary Detroit show where the police issue a warning to not play Fuck tha Police due to the vulgar language of the song. Cube tells the crowd about it and they play anyway. The crowd goes nuts, shots are fired and everyone flees. NWA is arrested.
During a press conference, Cube tells reporters that their art reflects their reality. When the question of spending their money comes up, it gets awkward before E diffuses the question with a joke. Finally Jerry gives Cube a contract to sign and a cheque for $75K, but only if he signs. Cube wants a lawyer to look it over, but Jerry won’t go for that, so Cube decides to leave the group, while Dre and the others stay.
And it just heats up from there, I promise you that!
Pros: The first hour is fast paced and sets the stage for what I would call a very gripping finale. It is a very short history of these players with some cameos from other notable talent, but it’s three protagonists stand out especially.
Cons: The back half of the story doesn’t quite have the same grit, so it hurts the movie somewhat overall. You’ll walk away wishing the characters were still working through things.
Runtime: 147 minutes
Points of Interest: The original cut of this movie was 3 hours and 30 minutes! This is largest grossing R-rated movie in box office history at $60m opening weekend. M.C. Ren was a major contributor and fan favourite of NWA but is something of a background character in the movie.
That’s right, that shit was dope, and I think it’s one of 2015’s top films. So please do yourself a favour and check it out if you haven’t already.
Because if the Golden Globes and Academy awards can’t see how awesome this film is, but the vast majority of people AND critics do, then you know that you you’ve got something special in front of you.
See you tomorrow my friends, with some more wisdom.