Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hustle and Flow

by Jackrabbit Slim

Who has seen Hustle and Flow? I Netflixed it last night. As a middle-aged white guy from the suburbs, I know diddly about hip-hop, and don't listen to it. Just by the sheer force of its absorption into mainstream culture, though, I have heard it and am familiar with some of the traits, but I don't seek it out. Therefore, I had no interest in seeing this film when it was in theaters. But because of the Oscars I decided to take a look, and was very pleasantly surprised.

This film has a very standard structure, and is the descendant of films from Hollywood's golden age about star-struck youngsters who want to make it big. Granted, DJay is older and is a pimp, but other than that, most of this story has been seen before in many different forms. What made it work for me was Howard's performance, and the wit of the screenplay, by Craig Brewer. There's a scene where Howard and his producer, Anthony Anderson, are having a bitter argument and they are interrupted by Shug, one of DJay's ho's, who is quite pregnant. She's bought them a lava lamp, and merrily hooks it up in their makeshift studio. The argument is quickly forgotten as the absurdity of the situation makes itself known. I also thought Ludacris' performance as the star rapper that DJay wants to give his tape to was inspired. Based on this and his work in Crash, Ludacris is one of the better rappers turned actors (Mos Def is probably the best).

And damn if "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" isn't catchy.


Blogger Brian said...

I saw it way back when it opened in the summer, and thought the performances were quite good. But in the end I just couldn't make myself believe what I was seeing, not even a little bit.

Now granted, I don't know much about pimps. Maybe Brewer got the nuances of pimping exactly right. But the whole thing seemed like it was written by a guy who learned everything he knows about pimpin' from hip-hop videos.

By the time the last scene between Shug and DJay rolled around, it was just too much to take. These aren't real people, they're suburban fantasies: hos with hearts of gold, big talkin' pimps with a sensitive side, and just enough drugs and guns to make things a little exciting.

3/28/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

It was in my top 10 for last year:


And yeah, I totally agree about Ludacris and Mos Def.

3/28/2006 10:43:00 AM  

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