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Movie Breakdown: Straight Outta Compton

August 12, 2015

Film

The Impression:

The story behind the beloved/infamous hip hop group NWA is now a film directed by F. Gary Gray (his last quality effort was 2003′s Italian Job).  If anything, the music will be good.

The Reality:

Straight Outta Compton turned out to be a lot different than I was expecting it to be.  I figured it would detail the rise and fall of NWA, slap some “and here’s what happened later” bits of info on the screen and then call it a day.  Nope.  While it definitely chronicles the rise and fall of NWA, there’s also Ice Cube’s solo debut, the later dealings of Ruthless Records, the creation of Death Row Records, Dr. Dre’s solo debut and on and on until you get an update on what the former members of the group are doing right at this very moment (seriously, like, right now).  This, as you can imagine, makes for a long film (the runtime is just under two and a half hours) that features a whole lot for your brain to follow.  Thankfully, most of what you get to see is either entertaining or interesting, and if you’re a fan of NWA (or just hip hop in general) then I think you’ll appreciate all the extra details.  Where the film stumbles though – and what ultimately makes it feel long – is with its quieter moments, which just aren’t handled particularly well by director F. Gary Gray.  They’re all fairly cliche and too melodramatic, and when the film is constantly ping ponging around between that stuff and engaging, lively showcases of NWA’s cultural impact, Straight Outta Compton becomes a grind by the time you get to the final act.  So in other words, the movie is good and totally worth your time, but don’t be surprised if at some point you start shuffling in your seat and wondering when it’ll end.

The Lesson:

O’Shea Jackson Jr. looks so much like his dad that I’m just going to assume he’s actually a clone.

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