Review 29: Straight Outta Compton (2015)
This week has been kind of a killer. I’ve had a bit of work to do and have been feeling extremely stressed out. In all honesty, I’m known to be a bit high strung, but this year I’ve managed to keep my stress level down. However, this was apparently the breaking point this week and I’ve been on edge for the last couple of days. It’s definitely been influences my movie choices and I’ve been looking for shorter films to give more time to getting other things done. Tonight, though, I had a breath of fresh air and thought I would dive into a longer one.
I’ve wanted to see this film since the trailer first dropped. I was too young to listen to N.W.A., but I’ve been a Dr. Dre and Ice Cube fan since I was in middle school. It came out during the summer, which is when I usually see films with my daughter and I wasn’t able to take her to this one. However, I’ve finally had the chance to see Straight Outta Compton, which has 8.0 out of 10 stars on IMDb and 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I was not disappointed.
The film tells a version of the true story of the members of N.W.A. and features great casting and solid performances from all involved. O’Shea Jackson, Jr plays his dad Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins plays Dr. Dre, Neil Brown Jr. plays DJ Yella, Aldis Hodge plays MC Ren, Marlon Yates Jr playes D.O.C., Paul Giamta plays Jerry Heller, and Jason Mitchell stars as Easy-E. Again, all the performances were great, but it would have been easy to hate on Easy-E and treat him as a villain, but instead his performance and the writing paints a much happier picture than that of the music video F’n with Dre Day.
This film is much like the N.W.A. music though in that it could easily offend some viewers. Aside from the expected language there is a bit of nudity and sexual content embedded in the life stories of the members of N.W.A. The film features primarily Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Easy-E and the other characters play vital roles in their lives. This story hits many notes that people can relate to. In some ways it’s a political film about first amendment rights, some ways it’s the “don’t trust the man” story, it’s an underdog story, it’s the story of gangs and police in LA in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and it’s a story about music. It might seem like the film could be over crowded, but it truly isn’t.
The story moves very well, with some moments feeling more like an action film, others like a drama, and other parts feeling like a comedy. The film hits all the right moments and even managed to bring tears to my eyes in a few parts. I was captivated and I was somewhat familiar with the story, but still was waiting to see how it would play out in the film. It was a truly well-made film and it’s a bit of a tragedy that none of the actors are nominated for an Oscar and that the movie isn’t on the best picture list.
Pulling one scene from this film is challenging, but I think the Detroit concert of N.W.A. is probably the most impactful scene. The scene opens with the Detroit Police listing all of the rules that the group is supposed to follow, and ending it with the banning of the song “F*** the Police.” When the concert is underway, Ice Cube gives quite a speech and begins the songs. Gun shots interrupt the show and N.W.A. is arrested. It’s a great scene with some amazing performances, and offers a look into the world the group was now a part of.
If you like rap music, any of the aforementioned artists, or just great films this is definitely one that you should check out. I’m very glad that I decided to buy this and not just rent it as it’s one that I’ll definitely be revisiting. I give Straight Outta Compton 9 out of 10 record contracts.