Saturday, August 15, 2015

Straight Outta Compton (R/147 Min.)

Before this past Tuesday if you’d asked me what I knew about N.W.A., my answer would have been, “pretty much nothing.”  I went to see Straight Outta Compton with a friend who I was pretty sure would be interested in the film.  I went not knowing if I would like it but wanted to give it a chance because I'm a sucker for true story movies.  Unless gore is involved.  Or Truman Capote.  Then, not so much.  This movie was not what I expected.  I liked it, my friend liked it and, judging by the comments I heard as people were leaving the theater, almost everyone else liked it too. 

Straight Outta Compton is the story of N.W.A. from their start to their breakup to their attempt at a reunion and everything in between.  I wasn’t quite sure how this movie was going to play out.  I couldn’t imagine how it would be anything other than an angry rap movie (yes, I know I’m going to hear about that statement in the comments) but it was so much more than that.  It was funny.  It was serious.  It was sad.  It was all of those things but, mostly, it was a well-made movie.

Let’s talk about the music.  I am so not a fan of rap but I couldn’t help moving to the beat.  And it was all rap, all the time.  Well, except for the Tears for Fears that was snuck in.  Talk about being out of place.  I still don’t care much for rap but I do appreciate the talent behind it a little more than I did.  Dr. Dre especially.  I’m not sure if they meant to make him the most appealing of the entire group or if that’s just how he was/is.  My friend made sure to tell me exactly how successful Dr. Dre is.  He must be doing something right.

As mentioned at the beginning, I knew almost nothing about this group. The only one of them I’d known much of anything about before this was Ice Cube.  I thought the actor who portrayed him was spot on.  He looked like him.  He seemed to have his mannerisms.  Then I found out who he is.  Well, that explains it.  Because of my lack, I’m unable to tell you how close to portraying the real people the other actors were but from what I heard during the movie and after it was over, they apparently did a really good job.  The only other actor I can say much about is Paul Giamatti.  I have to say up front that I cannot stand him.  I just can’t.  I’m beginning to wonder, though, if my feelings are because he’s so good at playing creepy, jerk-y, non-likable characters.  I’ve talked to a lot of people who think he’s a great actor.  Maybe I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe not.

I know I usually do a breakdown but, if you already know about the group, you probably already have some idea of what you’ll be walking into.  I’ll make this simple.  There’s a reason for its R-rating.  Yes, there was a lot of cussing.  If you're familiar with their lyrics, this should come as no surprise.  There was also drinking, drugs, sex and nudity.  And not just a little of each.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Despite everything mentioned in the paragraph above, I really liked this movie.  It was well-written, well-produced, well…everything.  I was so lost to my surroundings that they even had me shocked at their treatment by the police which made me stop and consider my reaction.  Was I taking their side?  Not at all.  Was I taking the side of the police?  Nope.  Not them either.  I went into this with the understanding that there are two sides to every story.  This story was just so well told that every bit of it was easy to believe.  Please consider that even though the police presence is noted, it was not the be all end all of the film.  There was so much more to the story.

If you have any interest at all in seeing Straight Outta Compton, I’d recommend it.  Aside from that, I’m not sure who I’d recommend it to.  Please understand also that this is not a feel-good movie.  If you're trying to choose a movie as an escape, this is not the movie I'd choose to do so.  I would love to hear from those of you who know more about N.W.A and who appreciate the group and rap as a whole, more than I do.  I’m quite sure you could say it better than I have.

P.S. Just another reminder that some of my readers are of the younger generation.  If any comments contain obscenities, they will not be posted.  If you can disagree in an intelligent manner, I will gladly post what you have to say.