Monday, September 05, 2005

Hustle & Flow

Terence HowardI finally got around to seeing this movie today. I can't understand why this story of a pimp having a mid-life crisis was well-received at the Sundance Film Festival and got favorable reviews from Rolling Stone, Village Voice, New York Times, USA Today, both Ebert and Roeper, Time Magazine, etc.


What did these people see that I didn't see?

What I saw was a movie about DJ, a man in his mid to late thirties who makes a meager living by pimping three not very attractive whores, one of whom can't whore right now because she's about 8-months pregnant and another who has a toddler. The only one in the household consistently bringing home the bacon is DJ's teen-aged white whore, whose name I've already forgotten. In exchange for whoring, the women get to live with DJ in his dilapidated house in a poor neighborhood.

An old father-figure (Isaac Hayes) tells DJ that a remote acquaintance of the pimp who is now a major rap star will be back in town on the 4th of July and needs a supply of quality weed. DJ gets it in his head that this is his big chance. He runs into a small-time recording engineer and convinces the man to help him make a demo. The pair are joined by a white guy who likes rap and knows how to play piano and use a sampler.

The trio build a home studio at DJ’s place using the money DJ's white whore earns by screwing men in their cars. All she asks for in return is a little attention and a chance to sit with the AC on for awhile. Aww!

When DJ's song needs some oomph, he gets the pregnant whore to sing some of his lyrics and pressures her until it comes out right. When the whore with the toddler gets sick of the changes in the household and mouths off at DJ and the other girls in her frustration, DJ does the manly thing and puts her ass out on the street. He picks up her son in his walker and puts him on the sidewalk as well.

The engineer neglects his wife and leaves her in the dark to speculate about what he’s doing in a house full of whores. One day she decides she’s wrong to be upset about her man’s sleazy new friends so she makes sandwiches and comes over to feed everyone. Aww!

DJ's big day arrives. The pregnant ho gives him a thick gold chain and a medallion she bought him for good luck. Evidently her pimp needs this expenditure of money from her more than her unborn child does. She gets a big wet kiss in return.

DJ goes to the rundown club to supply weed to the rapper in the hope that the rapper will remember him and listen to his demo. The arrogant rapper doesn't know him from Adam, but he does appreciate the weed. DJ manages to keep the conversation going most of the night and he finally gets the rapper to take his demo tape. But when DJ goes to the men's room he finds the rapper passed out on the floor and the demo tape in the toilet. DJ beats the rapper bloody, shoots one the rapper's bodyguards, flees to his home and is arrested and sent to prison.

But all is not lost for our hero! The unappreciated white ho, on whose tricks the studio was built and the demo made, takes charge and shops the demo around to local DJ's and radio stations. DJ's song becomes a hit and by the time his bid is up, he's already famous enough that two prison guards give him a demo tape to listen to as he's walking out of prison. The viewer is left to muse on whether DJ will arrogantly flush their tape down the toilet too.

Why would anyone think this is a good movie? A selfish man makes money off of weak women whom he can't even say thank you to for helping him start a presumably lucrative career. That's the whole thing in a nutshell. In fact, he doesn't thank the pianist or the engineer either. The only one who gets a thank you from DJ is the father-figure whose reward for introducing DJ to the rapper is to have his club shot up.

The one good thing about this movie? Terence Howard is very handsome, even with the stupid poofy Southern curled hair. But he's a better actor than this role shows.

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