"Trapped in the Closet is a a work of unadulterated, if perhaps unintentional, genius which rests comfortably alongside the work of Bunuel and Dali. What begins as a stereotypical melodrama quickly escalates into an epic farce which gleefully subverts our conception of what is possible and impossible. Lines like "he's opening the dresser / I pull out my berreta" and "then the midget takes his inhaler out" elevate R. Kelly's meisterwerk into storytelling genius. The subtle touches, like the fact that the midget has asthma, or that the Cop's wife is allergic to cherry pie, are like the details in a Bosch, giving life to the hellscape of modern life and revealing to us, in an age when we find ourselves drawn increasingly apart, that we are all connected in ways which may never be revealed to us, until we are forced into the closet by the unexpected arrival of a one night stand's spouse. R. Kelly's narrative interludes, delivered from inside the closet, remind us of the intent of the artist in orchestrating events, and casts R. Kelly into the mold of a sympathetic but ultimately helpless creator. By revealing to the audience both his control over evetns and his ultimate helplessness, he reminds us strikingly of Humbert Humbert in his asides to the jury.
Also, the most important thing to remember while watching is that R. Kelly peed on a 14 year old girl."
Michael Hightower | Front Royal, Va. | 11/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"R. Kelly, or "Kells", has stated innumerable times that Trapped In The Closet will be something for the ages--something that will be appreciated for "twenty years". Why he puts the limiter of twenty years on it, I can't possibly fathom, but twenty years it is. I, for one, must agree with him.
Trapped In The Closet is the most peculiar and enjoyable musical experiment I've seen since Shock Treatment, or perhaps Streets of Fire. But where Shock Treatment was camp, and Streets of Fire was bombastic, Trapped In The Closet is absolute insanity.
In supposedly basing his story on "reality," we get a closer look into Kells' psyche--and a scary look it is. In his opinion, it's compeletely normal for people to pull out a gun at the slightest provocation (e.g., being offered pears too many times). Guns are also not all that dangerous (regard his head-scratching with his Beretta, and also the extremely bloody but ultimately immaterial wound his brother-in-law receives). Everyone in R. Kelly's world cheats (even midgets).
What makes this so much fun is the extreme level of detail he provides. Conversations are sung almost verbatim as they may occur. Consider this exchange between R. and his wife: "Remember my friend Tina?" "Yeah, I think so, I might know her if I seen her." "Well she's got this friend, Roxanne." "Who the hell is Roxanne?" "She's friends with this dude Rufus, and he's cool with Chuck." And it goes on and on. Another classic line: "He says yes, I say no, he says yes, I say no." Aw heck, another favorite: "I say ba-, she say Shuddup."
There is so much that's bizarre about this. The unrated version is inexplicably intermittently censored, but rather than a beep sound, it's R. Kelly going "doot" in tune with the music. For that matter, Kells also adds sound effects himself such as "brrriiing" for a telephone.
The story, such as it is, is a continuous re-iteration of the same theme. This works perfectly with the music, which is also a continuous re-iteration of the same song. Admittedly, the tune is quite enjoyable; somewhat of a surprise after listening to a bit of TP3 Reloaded.
But the story doesn't really matter. It's how R. Kelly tells this bizarre story that obviously has no ending that makes Trapped in the Closet "Trapped In The Closet." How do I know this? Because he tells us so in the commentary.
The commentary is a gem of self-aggrandizing self-love. In a clever bit of egotism, he is visible in a chair watching the movie, so it's almost like we're watching the movie with him. The problem is that that's exactly what happens. He's so enraptured by the film that he can barely pull his eyes away to give us commentary. And when he does, the commentary is usually explaining the story which is so simple as to be understandable to puppies. Either that, or he tells us what's great about Trapped In The Closet. As another reviewer pointed out, did you know it rhymes? Did you know it has cliffhangers? And that the things that aren't cliffhangers are actually cliffhangers in reverse? Occasionally, he is delightfully brought off-track by the presence of himself in the movie. Sentences peter out when he sees R. Kelly on the screen and he settles back into his chair blissfully.
I have to give him credit, though. I will certainly be enjoying Trapped In The Closet for not only twenty more years, but hopefully for the rest of my life. It's up there with Plan 9, Star Crash, Starship Invasions, and Michael Jackson's horrific Moonwalker as some of the classically bad entertainment ever made. And like all of those film greats, it brilliantly skirts unwatchable awfulness to become a completely and thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Note to R. Kelly: If you read this, and are writing more, please do not try to make this any sillier than it already is. Stick to your guns, and continue making Important Art. I fear that if you try to turn this into camp, you will lose the magic that makes Trapped In The Closet so completely wonderful. You are, indeed, da man.
"You must be crazy or on crack..."
Jace A. Bartet | New Orleans, LA United States | 12/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't read about it in reviews or articles online (and yes, I'm fully aware of the fact that what you'll be getting if you read beyond this sentence might classify as a "review"). Just watch it. Just do whatever it is that you need to do to witness R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet. The problem with most articles and reviews online, such as those here at Amazon or at Rolling Stone, is that they give you too much. For a work such as this, spoilers are unforgivable. The psychotically insane genius of TitC relies partly on surprising the viewer with its confounding plot revelations. Beyond that, however, there is simply Kellz' beautiful (sometimes so in spite of the subject matter) vocal performance. In fact, in many ways it is the incongruity of the angelic beauty of the vocal performance with the STUPID plot twists and ghetto dialogue that really makes TitC worth watching and discussing. Otherwise it would just be a rambling, repulsive joke. As it stands, it is a rambling and repulsive might-or-might-not-be joke that sticks in your head and puts your jaw on the floor. The thing that really keeps me intrigued is contemplating R. Kelly's actual intent with this piece. It is absurd beyond anything anyone could have predicted, but there remains ambiguity about whether or not he intended it to be a joke. Whether he did or whether he didn't, however, the fact of the matter is that TitC is unlike any piece ever produced in popular music history. R. Kelly has succeeded in doing something so boldly unconventional that the question of his sanity is finally put to rest: R. Kelly has lost his mind, and he has enough money and notoriety to share it with all of you out there in TV Land.
Although he has been convicted of no crime, there is a great deal of likelihood that R. Kelly is indeed a sex offender and a pervert in just about the most negative sense of the word. My reverence for TitC does not condone the actions of the deranged mind behind the work; however, I also do not believe that those actions diminish the importance of the work in the historied cannon of pop music. Most people--let alone most musicians--in their lifetimes could never hope to produce something this astonishing, and by astonishing, I mean completely f****** retardedly insane."
Sooooooo Dreadful, Yet An Instant Classic!
L. M. Moon | Tehachapi, CA United States | 11/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the worst production since Showgirls. And I love watching Showgirls! Trapped in the Closet makes me laugh so hard that I have to pee (but not on a girl, mind you). R. Kelly is so narcissistic so completely stupid at the same time! What is there not to love about that?
This production deserves five stars for its sheer horribleness. It's a classic that deserves to be watched again and again! The message needs to get out about this terrible urban opera, so that all can appreciate it for its utter hilarity.
My favorite character, so far, is definitely Rosie, the nosy neighbor. She is a G with that spatula!
I've got to go, I've got a leg cramp!
Can this really be intended as serious?
Alaska Amazonian | Anchorage, AK USA | 04/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not for the dramatic factor, but instead for the comic relief it provides, I whole-heartedly recommend this DVD. I have never laughed so hard in my life. We subject our dinner guests to this as well. We showed our house sitter and then when we left, he showed his friends. Everyone is in stitches. If you want an added bonus, watch it with the commentary track on after your initial viewing. It's R. Kelly sitting in a big leather chair and smoking a cigar commenting on the depth and social significance of the Trapped in the Closet as it happens, which is R. Kelly's character commenting on the story around him. It's riveting lines like "Oh, I like this part," and "That is whis is really special about Trapped in the Closet." We were laughing so hard we were crying."