“Straight Outta Compton” Movie Review

No spoilers ahead.

I’ve kinda backed off doing movie reviews lately. For instance, I saw the latest Mission Impossible film, Rogue Nation, but neglected to review it quite simply because A.) It’s hard to do these reviews IMO without spoiling the film for people and I don’t want to do spoilers because then that cuts down my already limited audience and B.) The professionals do it better.

With that said, it’s necessary to review Straight Outta Compton because A.) It’s the best film I’ve seen this year, although admittedly, I haven’t seen a whole lot yet and B.) I want others to go see it — the whole word-of-mouth thing.

The film is about the creation of the N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitudes), one of the most influential and ground-breaking hip-hop groups of all time, featuring primarily Dr. Dre, Easy-E, and Ice Cube. In the film, a cool note, is that Ice Cube is played by Ice Cube’s actual son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr. And the kid — my age — nails it, which isn’t surprising. The other two actors playing Easy E and Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell and Corey Hawkins did really well, especially with some of the weightier, more dramatic scenes. And heck, R. Marcos Taylor kills it as the villainous Suge Knight and Keith Stanfield epitomizes early Snoop Dog.

I saw some reviews prior to seeing the movie that says it puts the group on a pedestal too much, but I thought it showed each man’s faults, especially Easy’s, quite well; they weren’t just hip-hop gods, they were humans with real failings. But of course, to some extent, they are put on the pedestal, but it’s deserved in my view. This is a group that came out and spoke truth — brutal truth — to life on the streets, a life most Americans didn’t know anything about and naturally, especially since they were blacks with “attitudes,” it didn’t sit right with a lot of talking heads and religious freaks and white people, generally.

They had a different lived-experience, most profoundly when it came to dealings with the police. They would get accosted merely for being black. I couldn’t imagine the level of humiliation and frustration I would feel if I was told to eat cement merely because a cop wanted to utilize his power over me. And that obviously came through in, “Fuck the Police,” one of the most controversial songs of all time. Which also makes it highly relevant to today’s time. They weave in, for instance, the beating and trial of Rodney King, where the police officers are acquitted. “At least it was captured on video!” Easy remarks, again, making it seem incredibly relevant to today.

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James A. Baldwin

At first, I was worried about seeing this since it had a running time of about 2.5 hours, but trust me, it doesn’t feel that long at all. It feels just right, telling the tale of their rise as a group of dudes that just want to make music, the implosion and the aftermath. It’s hilarious, it’s emotional (I wanted to tear up on two different occasions) and it’s good fun if you’re even remotely a hip-hop fan. There’s also a lot of well-bent tension because, after all, we’re talking about guys that came from the streets.

Go see this. Do it.

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