By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures.
Outkast in Idlewild
Idlewild is pretty good for an August dump movie. It’s certainly good enough for a theatrical release, as opposed to the original plan to premiere on HBO. It’s got plenty of problems, but enough fun and interesting bits to make it worth seeing.
Andre 3000 and Big Boi On Idlewild
Rooster (Big Boi) and Percival (Andre 3000) grew up together in Idlewild, with Rooster taking to the gangster life of bootlegging and Percy helping his dad with the mortician business while writing music. Now as grown-ups, they work the same club, but Percy is just trying to perform while Rooster gets caught up in a violent power struggle. And they sing a lot.
It’s kind of Moulin Rouge light. There’s no moment where the entire frame is full of overpowering imagery, but there are some cool tricks. Slight movements within still photos, animated characters within the real world and other tricks create an engaging fantasy world.
The stories may be standard genre operations but they’re hardly the point. Whenever it feels like there’s been too many double cross or tough talking clichés, they do a musical number. Whenever it feels like they’ve done too much showbiz love story, they do a musical number.
The musical numbers are great. I don’t know anything about music, let alone hip hop, but all of the songs are catchy and the choreography is wonderful. Dancers flip and kick, or cuckoo clocks chime in unison. The boys may sing during a plot-driven action scene or may just perform at the club.
There still aren’t enough musical numbers. With fewer than 10 songs, it seems more like a Disney soundtrack quota deal than a jam packed musical extravaganza. Rooster and Percival never seem like they were childhood friends, and their stories hardly ever intersect so it seems more like separate projects.
There is a great gunfight in the third act though. With a classy twist on bullet time and some other new and old clichés, it’s a rousing piece of action.
There are many problems with Idlewild but enough fun to make it worth watching. For a first time filmmaker and musicians turned actors, that’s a pretty strong debut.