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Directed by Bryan Barber.
Written by Bryan Barber.
Starring Antwan Patton, André Benjamin, Paula Patton and Terrence Howard.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  8/28/06


I was pretty fired up to catch the OutKast movie/musical "Idlewild" from the moment I first saw the trailer, back in May.  I really ought to stop getting excited for these kinds of flicks, though, because the setting was ripe for disappointment and let down, I was.

The OutKast guys star as lifelong friends Rooster (Antwan "Big Boi" Patton) and Percy (André Benjamin, aka André 3000), and when we're caught up to the present day, it's 193X and Percy is the piano man at Church, a nightclub in Idlewild, Georgia, where Rooster is the top performer and part-owner.  The contrast in personalities--Rooster's the flamboyant, cheating husband, never passing up a hooch deal or a big cigar; Percy's the shy one, the picky paramour, the man with "big dreams"--gives us more chances to mix styles between a little hip-hop here and a little R&B there.  Add in a bunch of random characters, from the boys' godfather (Ving Rhames) to a low-life hustler (Terrence Howard) to The Dame, a woman named Angel (Paula Patton) who has talent both on and off the stage, and you've got the makings of a blowout musical.

Except, it's not.  For OutKast fans (myself included), there is disappointment in a film that features about a half-dozen musical numbers featuring songs from the Grammy-winning double album "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below", which is now three years old...what ever happened to "Music Inspired By the Film XXXXX"???  As such, "Idlewild" feels like a three-year-old music video, with songs that you already know, and that would be cool IF it was 2003!  But, alas, it is not...and, you end up wishing for something a bit fresher.  It also doesn't help that Patton is not the best actor; Benjamin is a bit better but I don't expect either to be up for any major end-of-season awards, if you know what I mean.

The supporting cast is great; Howard soaks up his bad guy role with flourish, and bit parts from Patti LaBelle, Cicely Tyson, and Ben Vereen range from not bad to occasionally powerful (even Macy Gray recovers from that awful part she had in "Shadowboxer" to give us some laughs in "Idlewild").  There is one dance number early in the film (set to Patton's song "Church") that is pretty sweet, right down to some of the sickest swing dancing I've ever seen; again, because it shows up early, you get to thinking there will be more of those, but they never arrive.  The two or three songs that I hadn't heard before won't make me run out and buy the movie soundtrack, especially since they'll be included with some songs that I already own.

Hmm.  "Idlewild" was disappointing, but strangely, I would go see another OutKast movie if these guys decide to do it all again.  Maybe next time they'll come up with a script first and THEN make some songs, not the other way around!

Rating:  Rental


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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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09