Aug 072005

Hustle & Flow (2005)

With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis attempts to become a successful rapper.

Directed by
Craig Brewer

Drama, Music

Terrence Dashon Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P. Henson, Paula Jai Parker, Elise Neal, DJ Qualls, Ludacris

We watched this movie Saturday evening at the Veterans 24 here in Tampa. The film is about a pimp, and there are a lot of images that may be unpleasant to the typical Fox News patron. If you are upset by such material, do not watch this film.

However for those of us who can stomach fiction, Hustle and Flow is an extraordinary film.

DJay (Terrence Howard) is a streetwise hustler and Memphis pimp with a stable of 3 girls, Shug (Taraji Henson) who is pregnant and not working, Lexus (Paula Jai Parker) who works in a strip club, and Nola (Taryn Manning) who works out of DJay’s old beat-up car in a back alley. Even with two girls working and DJay selling dirt-weed on the side, it is hard for them to make ends meet. The utility company is about to shut off their utilities, if they don’t pay the bill. DJay feels that he has hit rock bottom, and he needs a change in his life. A bum trades him a Casio keyboard for some weed, and DJay takes it home. While playing the keys, DJay gets an inspiration to write rap music. He begins to write down his pimping style raps, his flow, in a little notebook while Nola is turning tricks. DJay runs into Key (Anthony Anderson), an old friend and sound engineer, who takes him to a church choir performance that reaches DJay’s soul. DJay looks inside his soul and decides to get out of the business, and now he has a dream of becoming a rapper. DJay teams up with Key to make a demo song. Skinny Black (Ludacris) is a platinum selling rapper about to return to Memphis for the 4th of July. DJay believes he can hustle Skinny to hear his tape, and his dream will come true.

First, Howard’s performance is amazing. While the content of the film may preclude it from an Oscar nomination, his performance is definitely comparable to Jamie Foxx’s Ray Charles. Also his character is tougher, since most of us do not know(or really want to know) about the thoughts and dreams of a two-bit pimp. Somehow, even though there is enobling about the character, he gets you to root for him, albeit reluctantly.

The ending is fine. There are a few awkward moments, but it strikes a good balance between realism and Hollywood.

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