Saturday, September 9, 2017

Movie Review: "Patti Cake$" (2017)

Director: Geremy Jasper
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

A woman from New Jersey pursues her dream of becoming a rapper. She must also deal with an unsupportive, alcoholic mother and battle financial troubles due to her grandmother's ever increasing medical bills. 

The tale of the struggling artist is a common story in both big studio films and smaller independent features. Just about everyone who has tried to break into music or film without a friend or relative already in the industry has seemingly had the same experience. "Patti Cake$" stars Danielle MacDonald, who plays the titular role of Patti Cake$, aka Patricia, aka Killa P, a poor white girl from New Jersey who dreams of becoming a famous rapper. Unfortunately, her family is having financial troubles due to her grandma's mounting medical bills, so she has to work her ass off as a bartender to make ends meet. Patti has a strained relationship with her mom Barb, played Bridget Everett, who once had rock star dreams of her own but is now an alcoholic hairstylist by day, alcoholic barfly by night. Patti's hip-hop group, PBNJ, consists of herself, her gravel-voiced Nana, played by Cathy Moriarty, her best friend Jheri, played by Siddharth Dhananjay, and an African-American anarchist and death metal artist that calls himself Bastard, played by Mamoudou Athie.

This is the first feature film from writer/director Geremy Jasper, who up until now has only done music videos and short films. What a great way to kick off his career as a film maker! Jasper has created a story with wonderful and relatable characters who feel like real life people and not over-exaggerated caricatures. Danielle MacDonald does an outstanding job in her leading role. She is passionate, charismatic, extremely likable, and to top it all off, she can really flow when it comes to spitting rhymes. Though Patti is rough around the edges, it's understandable because she's clearly had the crap end of the stick thrown at her more than once in her young life. MacDonald is from Australia and had to learn to rap with a New Jersey accent, and we think she does so convincingly and with great success. This is her breakout role and we cannot wait to see more from her in the future. The rest of the cast is excellent as well. We love the rag-tag group which makes up PBNJ. MacDonald, Dhananjay, and Athie have tremendous chemistry with one another. Bridget Everett is wonderful portraying an adult who lives a life of dwelling on her unfulfilled dreams. She resents her daughter, who she at least partially blames for the loss of her singing career.

"Patti Cake$" is full of people looking for stardom while living in the shadow of New York City, a mecca of the recording industry. The Big Apple is just across the river from where Patti lives, but might as well be 10,000 miles away to these Jersey hip hop hopefuls. The soundtrack is fantastic, full of original songs composed by Geremy Jasper himself. The music can be tough to listen to and are full of profanity-laced depressing lyrics, but PBNJ is telling their stories as they have lived them truthfully and honestly. The story is a bit formulaic at times and follows a narrative style we have seen many times before, but it is still powerful nonetheless. It has a lot of heart and is full of really great characters the audience gets fully invest in along the way. As we have said many times before on this here site "if a film has great characters, chances are, you'll have a good movie," and "Patti Cake$" is most certainly a good movie to be sure.
My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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