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Review: Straight Outta Compton

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(L-r) Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell and O'Shea Jackson, Jr. star in Universal Pictures' "Straight Outta Compton"

In life, influential figures from various segments of society are often forgotten by future generations. It’s something that occurs for a plethora of reasons, but failing to remember who and what came before you never really helps anyone. That’s why films like Straight Outta Compton are good to have around. If they’re done correctly, these kinds of pictures can give people a better understanding of what came before them while giving us an opportunity to reflect and compare the past, present and beyond.

Considered to be the “world’s most dangerous group,” the N.W.A. made its mark in rap music starting in 1987 with rhymes that were both honest and brutal as they chose to share their common frustrations to the world. F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton takes us back to that time to illustrate just how it was done and everything that came with it once they unleashed a lyrical (and sometimes physical) assault on anyone who crossed their paths.

To put it as simple as possible, Straight Outta Compton takes us through everything that the N.W.A. dealt with from their inception all the way passed their tumultuous breakup. There’s a chance that movies like this are “cleaned up” in order to make everything run smoother for audiences who want something softer, but that doesn’t really happen here. When looking at who these guys are and what they stand for, that isn’t really that unexpected. They believed in being real and that’s what they’re serving up to audiences once again.

The only issue with the film is that it does run a little bit longer than it should have. The problem with that is the only scenes I would have taken out would have been some of the stuff that is used to establish their personal lives as husbands and fathers. Other than that, everything else proves to be an absolute necessity. I mean, those are too I guess, but I don’t know if I would have gotten rid of anything else.

When looking over at the acting portion of Straight Outta Compton, I can’t say anything negative there either. Someone like Paul Giamatti will obviously do exceptionally well since that’s what he does, but the characters who are central to everything are handled quite nicely by everyone portraying them including the newcomers. Bringing in novice actors like O’Shea Jackson, Jr. starring as his father Ice Cube made me suspicious at first, but he, along with the others show that they were certainly up to the challenge.

In spite of the group being seen as dangerous and tough, a feature that helps in making Straight Outta Compton valuable in terms of entertainment is its humor. Although we viewed them as being a humorless group ready to cross the controversial lines that many wouldn’t dare, we have to remember that they were essentially just kids who were also friends. These scenes let us see that as it’s delivered to us in a natural way in order to humanize them even during a few of the more serious moments.

For those of us who already know much about the story behind this influential rap group, Straight Outta Compton serves to remind us of who they were, the impact they had and what real hip hop music was before it unfortunately meshed with modern-day pop culture. For those who don’t know about these guys and their experiences, this pictures provides a chance to learn. These are a couple of reasons why I would believe that Straight Outta Compton is a cinematic success. There’s legitimate entertainment here that also hopes to give people an honest glimpse at the world that help create a musical genre that many thought would fade away fast.

Rating: R

Director: F. Gary Gray

O’Shea Jackson, Jr.
Corey Hawkins
Jason Mitchell
Neil Brown, Jr.
Aldis Hodge
Paul Giamatti

Film Length: 130 minutes

Release Date: August 14, 2015

Distributor: Universal Pictures

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