Tuesday, August 18, 2015
I'm not going to say that I was forced to go. Nor can I say that I went against my will. This wasn't the first movie on my watch list for the weekend; but my wife wanted to go, and she did buy my favorite candy as a bribe, so I said that I would tag along. I'd heard of the group NWA, and even knew what the initials stood for. I have to admit that I knew nothing of their music - other than it's not likely that any selections from their catalog would ever hold a spot on my Mp3 player. My expectations, you could say, were not very high when I sat down in the full theater.
After having seen the film, along with seven movie trailers, I can confidently say that I recommend it. Sure, the strong language, nudity and sexual innuendo made me question our decision to bring our 16 year old daughter along for the ride, but after a little explanation of what AIDS within heterosexual relationships and Suge Knight's violent tendencies were (really, I don't think any of those are spoilers) I left the theater with a desire to learn more about this group and their significance in the history of rap music and their struggle with the right to free speech. When a film leaves you with a feeling of wanting to explore a subject in greater detail, I have to say that it has succeeded on many basic levels.
There were three main characters that carried the film: Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E. Through different scenes, each character was developed adequately to highlight their strengths, weaknesses and flaws. One character dies (you can do the math on that one) and poor Paul Giamatti - well, let's just say that he's not cast as the same character you know him by in Sideways or, in one of my favorites: Big Fat Liar. The Suge Knight role is memorable, and for anyone that may have had any doubts about whether or not he ran over that guy at the liquor store recently in the news... well, lets just say that if you happen to be called for that jury, if you've seen this film you should recuse yourself in front of the judge.
The movie ran about two and a half hours. My daughter felt that it was a little long, and my wife agreed. I understand that in order to wind the movie down and give the dying character (see math problem above) respect, it takes time and that may have contributed to the slightly stretched ending. I didn't run out of Sno-Caps, so the length of the film didn't bother me.
In light of heightened security, I should note that the theater employees didn't inspect our bags or run wands over our bodies for this film, as they did last weekend for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (I'm not judging, just reporting our experience). There were two long lines for the next screening after ours, so I can vouch for the accuracy of the $60.2 million draw on the opening weekend.
As I've said, I would recommend this movie to a friend. You don't have to be familiar with the gansta rap music of NWA to enjoy the film, although I was definitely in the minority when it came to singing along with the musical score. If you're easily offended by harsh language, poolside nudity and the suggestion of sexual activity, you might be a little more comfortable looking up the group NWA in Wikipedia and starting there. It is an interesting story and proves the old adage that if you believe in yourself and follow your dream, you can become the person you were meant to be.