Straight Outta Compton (2015)
August 30, 2015 1:53 PM - Subscribe

The group NWA emerges from the streets of Compton, California in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes pop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
posted by DirtyOldTown (13 comments total)
This movie is about 40 minutes too long. That would be my primary complaint. The pacing is way off past the midpoint and it drags.

The primary complaint many other people have is that it follows a traditional star-is-born/Behind the Music formula and glosses over things like Dre's violence toward women. The thing is, I think the movie ends up being overlong specifically because the filmmakers are trying to make more out of it than that. Yes, there is definitely a side of it that wants to be a crowd pleaser. But it also spends (what should be) its second half and the 30 or 40 minutes subsequent trying to look at how success tore them apart. I think Gray is trying to make some larger points about how the system is set up to exploit black artists at best and turn them against each other at worst. He just falters because of what a thornier, less satisfying story that is and because of what a tonal shift it makes from the first part of the film.

They could have done more about their hostility toward women, though, for sure. And they might have paid at least lip service to the hypocrisy of NWA's "reality raps." I mean, this is a group that performed "Dope Man" and also complained about being mistaken for drug dealers in "Fuck Tha Police." All of the actors are very good, though and there are many sequences that are exactly what you'd want to see.

It's a tentative recommend on my part if you liked NWA. But if you never cared for them or think the glossing over of the misogyny is going to ruin it for you, you are almost certainly reading it correctly.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

A much more petty complaint though: the fucking hats are wrong. That White Sox hat they keep wearing? Didn't exist until what, fifteen years later? And those Raiders and Kings hats with the fucked up script on them... did they buy those at a flea market? They are hella fake.

These are aside from more obvious complaints liek the fictionalized way the Detroit arrest goes down and oh yeah, the complete omission of Dre's serial abuse of women.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:58 PM on August 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ha! Slate noticed that hats, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:00 PM on August 30, 2015

I am down with the people who still find NWA relevant as an articulation of a particular kind of rage.

But damn, you still gotta Google "Dee Barnes" and make that part of your understanding of the story.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:08 PM on August 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

But the "Straight Outta" meme(s)...

(I had a comment with several I made deleted, apparently because I had made the original post, but now... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, some places have more than one icon: 5.1, 5.2 and the perfect alternative: 6.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:00 PM on August 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

...and I bought the shirt. well, a shirt.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:21 PM on August 30, 2015

There is a definite tone switch about halfway through that doesn't hold up. The first half is much much more interesting. It definitely falls hard into Behind the Music territory, with almost every cliche for the Hollywood biopic.

My two main takeaways were that the guy playing Eazy-E is clearly the best actor in the cast. And that when Suge Knight dies, someone is going to make a motherfucking epic biopic with some wild ass shit going down.
posted by dogwalker at 12:11 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

I thought Giamatti and the guy who played Eazy played off each other really well. Their scenes went a long way to giving a picture of how Heller seemingly both loved and cared for Eazy and also felt pretty comfortable ripping him and the other guys off.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:33 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, as someone who watched a fair amount of Leverage, it was odd seeing him pop up in the kind of underwritten role of Ren. He was a familiar enough face to me that I kept expecting him to do more.

Nice that they covered D.O.C's role in the group, which often goes unremarked upon. Although if they spent a nanosecond on Arabian Prince, I didn't catch it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:40 AM on August 31, 2015

..."him" in the previous sentence being Aldis Hodge.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:53 AM on August 31, 2015

Arabian Prince was there somewhere, but not mentioned and had no lines. However, someone was listed as playing him in the credits, I believe. (Like, the film only shows 5 members of the group but there are clearly 6 people on the album cover.) I know that happened with Chuck D when Cube went to NYC to record his solo album. Totally glossed over, but technically still there and still listed in the credits.

Definitely a result of trying to condense so much of the timeline, which I think is understandable to a degree. The first half of the movie is still very good even though it makes it look like Straight Outta Compton was their first album. The second half looks pretty cheesy when they try to slam everything they ever did into 1 hour with things like Dre literally walking into the sunlight to create Aftermath.

Tolerance for the Hollywood biopic tropes will affect how much you enjoy this as "the N.W.A. movie" versus just a movie.
posted by dogwalker at 8:06 AM on August 31, 2015

Finally saw this; really good as far as these music biopics go. Interesting to see the choices that Dre/Cube brought, which not only paint them in a more positive light of course, but I get the sense that they are selectively remembering early styles/fashions and wonder if it's because they look back seeing their teenage selves as corny or something.

Like when Dre/Yella were DJing for Lonzo's club, they were already performing as an established electrofunk group, World Class Wreckin Cru, with a couple albums and they had opened for New Edition already- but they just portrayed themselves as aspiring DJs.

I guess this all goes into the narrative of their musical trajectory which glosses over tons, Like Eazy E's first solo which came out the same year as Straight Outta Compton, with Cube/Dre contributing. That actually may have helped build the tension between Eazy/Heller and the other guys. I guess I just hoped they included more of the music in general- all these guys were way more active in the music scene that what we see, but not sure how you'd fit it into the story.
posted by p3t3 at 7:20 PM on January 9, 2016

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