Musical Set at Southern Speakeasy Released on DVD
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R for profanity, ethnic slurs, nudity, sexuality and violence.
Running time: 121 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Video
DVD Extras: Director’s commentary, deleted scenes, deleted Outkast song, and two music videos by, one by Big Boi, one by Andre 3000
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Good (2 stars)
Endeavoring to mimic Moulin Rouge’s irreverent approach to the musical genre, Idlewild mixes hip-hop into a historical flick set in the Thirties during Prohibition. The film represents the brash directorial debut of Bryan Barber, who makes quite a splash via an elaborate musical throwback replete with chorus lines. This bifurcated, bittersweet tale of love and ambition co-stars OutKast’s Big Boi and Andre’ 3000 as Rooster and Percival, respectively, lifelong friends raised on opposite side of the tracks of a sleepy Southern town of Idlewild, Georgia.
The former is the street-wise son of a moonshiner, while the latter comes from a well-to-do family which made its money legitimately, as undertakers.
Wheeler-dealer Rooster has the perfect personality to serve as the emcee/headliner at Church, a free-for-all speakeasy run by the mob. By contrast, the shy and soft-spoken Percival, a mortician by day, arrives at the club most evenings to play piano as an escape from working for his overbearing father (Ben Vereen).
The roving-eyed Rooster is married with five kids to the suspicious Zora (Malinda Williams), a shotgun-toting woman willing to go the extra yard to keep her man. Meanwhile, Percy is a lonely, melancholy soul whose spirits are picked up the day that Angel (Paula Patton) arrives in town from St. ouis to perform at Church. The only other plot point worthy of note involves the menacing presence of Trumpy (Terrence Howard), a ruthless gangster with little respect for his mentor (Ving Rhames).
Visually, the picture pleasantly harks back to a bygone era but it simultaneously undercuts that sense of nostalgia by indulging in incessant profanity, the N-word, rap music and some thoroughly modern dance moves.
So, in spite of several inspired moments where it exhibits some genuine promise, this overly-ambitious project ends up sabotaging its own potential.