"I'm not much of a rap fan but I picked this one up on a lark after hearing some of the good things that have been said lately about Terrence Howard. I can honestly say it is one of the best movies I've seen in a while and I think Howard is on his way to becoming a top-tier Hollywood actor.
The story centers on a pimp and drug dealer named Djay, played by Howard. Djay is sleepwalking his way through life until fate taps him on the shoulder. He is given an old Casio keyboard for a dime bag of pot and he runs into an old buddy of his who is now a recording studio technician. The two things light a spark in Djay and he decides to take a shot at being a rapper. Using egg boxes to soundproof a room in his rundown house and using his whores for backup singers, Djay creates magic.
The movie manages to make a pimp into a sympathetic character, which is an accomplishment on its own right. But the movie isn't really about pimps any more than it's about whores or drug dealers. In fact, it's not even about black or white. The only two white characters in the movie are one of Djay's whores and a geeky keyboards guy and they are both shown in a fairly positive light. The movie is about realizing one's dreams and how the drive to do can bring meaning to even the most dismal situation. It's an old story but one I never get tired of. "
greverio | Centreville, Virginia United States | 08/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Pimpin' ain't easy and this pimp is as realistic a pimp ever portrayed on film. Free of Blaxsploitation/glorified stereotypical pimps, Terrence Howard shines as DJay a man with a big dream and even bigger determination.
Craig Brewer brings the South to front with a raw and inspiring film about dreams. Brewer did an excellent job with the soundtrack which featured memorable sounds of the present and future south sound. Terrence Howard is amazing and even raps his own tunes! Supporting cast members also brought a fresh and personal feel to the movie. Taraji P. Henson as Shug was a warm and beautiful character that holds Djay's heart. Also Anthony Anderson plays a good straight character as Key.
All in all a surprise and very well written and acted movie!"
Compelling and appalling, and funny!
Victoria Reyes | 04/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I usually avoid like the plague anything related to hip-hop/gansta rap, but I always say "If a movie's good, it's good" and this one was. It made me laugh out loud and also tear up a bit. For adults only because the language is ultra-filthy with a few explicitly sexual images (though no nudity), and much glorification of pot-smoking."
Fantastic and very human
wolfgang731 | 01/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was a little apprehensive about this film because I'm not keen on anything that either glamorizes or tries to legitimize anything as heinous or disgusting as pimping, but being a Terrence Howard fan and taking into account his best actor nomination, I put all pre-conceived notions aside and watched it. The movie blew me away. This is very much a universal film in that, ultimately, it's about our hopes and our need to create something extraordinary as a testament of our sojourn here. Realizing that he is the same age as his father when he passed away, low level pimp and drug dealer DJay decides, with the help of an old school buddy, now gospel producer, to pursue his long-time ambition of becoming a rapper, following in the footsteps of local-guy-made-good Skinny Black (played by Ludacris). What made this a very moving experience was that Craig Brewer didn't attempt to either praise nor condemn his characters but rather create wholly credible people, warts and all, that resonate within everyone because, in the end, it's about wanting to better yourself, to realize a dream, to achieve something extraordinary, to be respected and to leave your mark on the world, regardless of how insignificant it may seem to everyone else. None of these characters may come across as necessarily likeable but dang if they aren't believable and it's due to that that their personal trials and misgivings impact the viewer. The character of Nola was, for me, the living, heartbreaking embodiment of lost youth, desperation and wasted innocence; a person knowing they were meant for greater things but not knowing what that is and how to escape the drudgery of her existence and be part of something special. We see how she practically glows with self-confidence when in her small way she contributes to DJay's dreams. Terrence Howard delivers a nuanced, heartfelt and eloquent performance as DJay, with Taryn Manning as Nola, bringing a profound humanity to a country girl caught in her own life. Taraji Henson is perfect as Shug, a weary yet confident reflection of D Jay's dreams and Paula Jai Parker is equally impressive as Lexus, the walking manifestation of bitterness and resentment, throwing her vitriol in the face of everyone's hopes. Anthony Anderson and D.J. Qualls round out the cast, as long time buddy/producer and a skinny white boy with rhythm and dreams of his own to spare, respectively."
Familiar plotting with excellent acting and writing.
D. Knouse | vancouver, washington United States | 01/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"4.5 stars. We've all seen this story before. A gangster, or a pimp as it is in this story, sees a chance to crawl out of the nowhere life he is seemingly trapped in and achieve some sort of redemption and/or trancendency through music. It's easy to root for the nobody reaching for the brass ring against all odds in the dim hope of becoming recognized as a greater human being than anybody thought possible. But most of these type of films fall flat due to poor writing and second-rate acting. "Hustle & Flow" is a surprising exception. The acting, all around, is often astonishing. Terrence Howard leads the way with a dominating performance which reminded me of the fine work of Benicio Del Toro, where both actors completely lose themselves in the role and we all believe the character actually exists somewhere out there in the world. The dialogue is superb, and with so many good actors drawn to this film, the words reach extremely high levels of literary sharpness. The biggest surprise for me, however, was that I thoroughly enjoyed all the music throughout the movie. I despise most Rap, but in "Hustle & Flow" the rapping is smooth and enveloped with soul, thus achieving much more depth of emotion in the final summation. Once again, an independent film shows up all those over-hyped, over-budget Hollywood films that we are force-fed each year. This is the first DVD in months where, as the credits began to roll, I eagerly hit the menu button and scoured the special features section for more "Hustle & Flow." Except for the familiar plotting, which is the only thing even slightly generic about this movie, the end result is phenomenal, all-around excellence."