Hustle and Flow
Director: Craig Brewer
Cast: Terrence Dashon Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P. Henson, Paula Jai Parker, Elise Neal, DJ Qualls, Ludacris and Isaac Hayes
No one ever said pimpin’ was easy. And that’s the problem Hustle and Flow’s main character Djay faces. Set in the city of Memphis—the city of Making Easy Money, Pimpin’ “˜Hos In Style—Djay is fed up with the ins and outs of his daily pimping and drug dealing days. He decides to turn to an old high school classmate, Key (Anthony Anderson), and his co-worker, Shelby (played by DJ Qualls, who is best known for his stint on “˜Road Trip’ as that guy who doesn’t count putting peanut butter on his nether regions and having his dog lick it off as sex) to help bring about his dream of producing hip-hop flow. With the help of his two “bitches,” Shug and Nola, Djay realizes that “everybody gotta have a dream,” and he might just be about to live his. Brought to you by MTV Productions, this movie is no Napoleon Dynamite. It’s a gritty tale about daily life in the ghetto and trying to rise above it.
The film runs on the slightly predictable side. A down-and-out creative genius works hard to get what he wants, suffers several setbacks, continues persevering and”¦well, I won’t spoil the ending, but one can pretty much assume what happens. Yet, it’s a wild, funny, and sentimental ride toward the finale. Hardly a breath will be bated, but the movie manages to evoke charisma from its characters, so one does remain interested in the journey of Djay and his compatriots.
Despite its hard attitude, the movie often walks the line of sentimentality a bit too often. Djay cries (a little too much for the hardcore rapper / pimp / drug dealer he portrays), the music soars, wah wah wah. Enough with the “I think I can” speeches that are supposed to make this film Oscar-worthy. These speeches given by Djay pepper the movie almost as often as women are called “bitches.” And that’s saying a lot. The rampant misogyny that is commonly seen in the hip-hop community’s lyrics and ways of life is portrayed vividly in the movie. In Hustle and Flow, women are “bitches,” and “‘hos”, whose sole purposes are turning tricks and making money for Djay. Respect is not given to them, and the two main female characters seem to not mind too much the disrespect that Djay—and Life for that matter—hands them.
The actresses who play them, however, do a wonderful job of portraying women who live that type of cultural way of life, and to be honest, the character of Nola is so reminiscent of Lindsay Lohan, I don’t care too much about the acting chops. It’s secretly rewarding to picture Lohan, who is less than my favorite, as a hooker who sleeps her way through life. And Ludacris makes a surprisingly great rapper-turned-actor as Skinny Black, a rapper from the same “˜hood as Djay who makes it to stardom.
To be fair, for some of its shortcomings, the film draws an involved and evocative reaction from its audience. The first time Djay and Key’s hard work comes together to actually produce a beat for his flow, the audience went wild. Heads were nodding in tune to the beat, and some louder crowd members expressed their approval verbally. Even as the credits rolled and the theater was exited, a girl was overheard saying how much she wanted to get into her garage and roll out some tunes. So the movie had the impact and message it seemed to be shooting for—inspiration, perspiration, and a little hustle and flow will get you to the top.
Pretty Woman — “Everybody gotta have a dream” seems to be the catchphrases of both these films whose main characters include hookers with hearts of gold.
8 Mile — Another rapper-from-the-ghetto-struggles-against-his-environment-to-finally-live-out-his-dream-of-success
The Hustler – Paul Newman has plenty of hustle in this movie. Not so sure about hiw “flow.”
Krush Groove – The original hip-hop movie, and still my personal favorite.
Mean Girls – Watch this and picture Lindsay Lohan as a hooker. It’s not that hard to do.
Road Trip – D.J. Qualls finest performance.