Directed by Chris Robinson.
Written by Tina Gordon Chism. Based on a story by Antwone
Fisher. Yep, THAT Antwone Fisher.
Starring T.I., Lauren London, Jackie Long and Mykelti Williamson.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 4/22/06
I really can't explain why, but I REALLY
wanted to see "ATL" when it first came out two weeks ago, but kept
trying to catch it after work on days when I was swamped in the
office. Then one day I left work a little early to catch it,
only to realize that the online schedule I checked was wrong...and
the flick had already started when I got there.
So, I left work early last Thursday to see
it, and for the first time in a long time, I saw a movie about
nothing that was pretty cool and...well, enjoyable. "ATL"
covers roughly six weeks in the life of four friends in Atlanta that
are about to finish their senior year in high school: the
kingpin, Rashad (rapper T.I.); the brains, Esquire (Jackie Long);
the chump, 21-years-old-and-still-in-high-school Teddy (Jason
Weaver) and the comic relief, Brooklyn (Albert Daniels). The
foursome also hang out every so often with Rashad's brother Ant
(Evan Ross), but Ant's on a different career path even though he's
still in his high school infancy--he knows a guy that knows a drug
dealer (Outkast rapper Big Boi, aka Antwan Andre Patton), and he's
set to make cash in the now. All the while, the guys hang out
at the local Waffle House, have fun with the ladies, call each other
up to talk shit and go to the Cascade Roller Skating Rink on Sunday
nights with everybody else in their neighborhood.
Like I said, "ATL" isn't about anything, but
that is what makes the movie so much fun, at least for me...much
like the South that I know of from a distance, the film's slow,
deliberately normal day-in-the-life approach works beautifully for
anyone that needed a minute to think back to what they loved most
about high school--your crew! Sure, this crew is having more
fun than I ever did back in high school (still have no idea where
the parties were), but the same elements are there, most notably the
chemistry between the four leads. Even when the film involves
a love interest for Rashad, New New (Lauren London), it doesn't lose
much steam because we still get plenty of sequences where Rashad is
hangin' with his crew all around town, if he isn't driving them from
one place to another as the team's chauffeur.
Since I saw this in an empty theater
(incredible, given the film just opened recently), it's hard to get
a gauge for the things that will make "the people" laugh, because I
was howling the whole time, thanks to characters like Brooklyn, The
Twins, and Uncle George (Mykelti Williamson). And, even though
I didn't see "Roll Bounce", the roller skating sequences here are
infectious, maybe because I did a lot of roller skating as a kid
(note: I didn't do it well, but I did it), maybe because I
love hip-hop, maybe because I can't get enough of the Big Booty Cam
that is quickly becoming a requirement for all urban-themed films.
I didn't enjoy a plot string involving New
New's real past; I also thought the ending featuring the end result
of Ant's foray into dealing was weak and unnecessary. The
handling of white people in "ATL"--will every white character we
meet be stereotypically evil?--is uneven and I was almost waiting to
see how many different ways white folks would mistreat the film's
main crew; there were only a few instances, but "ATL" doesn't even
feature the token white nice guy ("Don't worry, guys, I understand
where y'all are comin' from")...the film almost would have been
better off leaving white folks out of the story altogether.
Otherwise, I really liked "ATL", and I'd
watch it again just to get the first hour's vibe in my system before
a stress-filled day. The soundtrack was hot, but the flow was
chill and that's the meat of what I really got into here.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard