Another morning, another pair of bleary eyes and a right b’stard between the eyes – just another day in the life of your average DiSser. But today was different: today, rather than ride the Tube to the mighty DiSopolis, we took a left turn here and a right turn there and wound up in Soho, sat in a cold, dark room with the new OutKast-starring movie Idlewild playing before us. Consider this, then, a preview of André 3000 and Big Boi’s cinematic epic, set in Prohibition-era Georgia. Y’know, where REM are from, only before they were born. Yup, even Michael Stipe…
We should probably insert a warning here, eh? Spoiler alert!
Starring André Benjamin and Antwan A Patton but featuring music by the aforementioned alter-ego’ed duo, Idlewild is a strange amalgamation of a standard musical – songs are performed within the film, including four from the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double-disc set of 2004 – and a gritty drama. Big Boi (Patton)’s Rooster – thrown in at the deep end rather when his father (figure, at least – it’s never totally clear), played by Ving Rhames, is murdered, leaving Rooster in charge of the nightclub central to the film’s proceedings – more often than not provides the light relief, a necessity when Terrence Howard’s character is running about shooting people like he’s in a video game. Indeed, there are moments when the slick set-pieces and carefully choreographed violence seem lifted straight from a PS2 screen: car chases and fist fights are pure boy’s own stuff, although this is a film of two very different halves.
André 3000/Benjamin’s character, Percival, is a mortician by day and a pianist in said club – The Church – by night; while he tinkles the ivories, the likes of Rooster and Macy Gray keep the punters entertained with bawdy raps and rhymes, as a swinging brass section toots along. When Angel (played by Paula Patton) arrives from St Louis to sing at The Church for a month, he falls not-so-slowly in love – while Rooster’s expletive-riddled adventures are unravelling, so too are Percival’s, only his adventures are ones of the heart. Only at the film’s beginning and end do the OutKast pair’s stories cross each other: at the beginning the duo are in their childhood, and the roots of their characters are laid, but the film’s explosive climax is far from suitable for kids. Idlewild is a film that truly deserves its 15-certificate rating.
Although characters around the OutKast pair are more often than not entirely one-dimensional, pawns in the rappers’ biggest picture to date, the lead protagonists are generally well realised, and the audience does care for a select few protagonists come that telegraphed but nevertheless dramatic ending. Since this is no review, we’ll leave it at that: just know that Idlewild is no Under The Cherry Moon or, thank God, Cool As Ice.
Actually, Cool As Ice was pretty freakin’ fly… “Drop that zero and get with the hero!” Yeah…
Idlewild is released in the UK on September 8.