Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So fresh, so clean

I got a chance to see in advance one of the movies I'd find most groovy. I speak of Idlewild, the movie starring Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast. I didn't expect a lot -- maybe a feature-length, above-average music video -- but it holds together pretty well as both period piece and musical.

First, the movie looks terrific. The clothes and sets were fun to watch, if not historically accurate. One of Outkast's strengths is their ability to depict a revised history, where entertainers of mass appeal aren't necessarily white. Their colorization of the past is subtle and unchallenged, so that you readily accept it as fact. I know, if only.

Second, their musical skills are up to the challenge. Their approach is all-out and risky, and Big Boi tends to get a bit anachronistic in his rhymes, but it's enjoyable. Not always brilliant, and at times wildly inconsistent, but at least they're trying. And they're still miles ahead of everyone else when it comes to their sound. There are a few who could approximate it -- Danger Mouse, Beck, and the people Moby samples come to mind -- but there's no denying that what you hear is unmistakably Outkast.

Third, it's hilarious. You watch master thespians like Cicely Tyson, Ving Rhames, and Terrence Howard clearly not doing their best work with their one-note characters, and it doesn't matter. Because they're all having fun. The spirit is infectious and irreverent. A few scenes seem a bit melodramatic, but there's not really a false acting moment. Well, except for Macy Gray, who embodies the same sassy loudmouth that she played in Training Day and Domino.

Finally, some appreciation for writer/director Bryan Barber, who's directed a handful of Outkast videos, and manages to combine his short-form cinematic tricks with some decent writing ability. The result is a much more coherent effort than most movies with rock stars trying to act. Andre 3000 and Big Boi are good enough for the big screen; as I watched, I couldn't resist making comparisons to Prince and Morris Day in their primes.


slskenyon said...

Glad to hear this turned out to be worth the watch. However, it isn't worth my 10 dollars for 90 minutes of entertainment. I'll just watch some Outkast videos on continuous playback and paste some magazine cut outs of the actors you mentioned onto the screen. Hey, cheaper, and maybe worth a YouTube video.

Tonya said...

I didn't even know that they were making a movie. Where have I been?

My pop culture cred is on the downslide.