One thing that’s rare in the movie world is seeing a film that is both a critical success and a commercial success. While I expected Straight Outta Compton to be a critical success, I hardly expected it to do as well as it did commercially, considering the subject matter. It seemed like a movie with a single demographic. But honestly, once you see it, you realize it’s one of those movies that transcends demographics and makes it so everyone can find a parallel in their own lives to the problems of someone who isn’t like them at all. Yes, even a middle aged white girl, who spent the 80s in the mountains of New Hampshire, can identify with the main characters in this storyline.
But it’s not just a story. It’s a film based on the events that led to led to one of the most potent rags to riches stories in history. It’s the making of the group NWA, produced by the now billionaire group themselves. We see the stories of Andre Young (a.k.a. Dr. Dre), O’Shea Jackson (a.k.a. Ice Cube), and Eazy-E (Eric Wright) through their eyes. It’s an unflinching and often introspective look at a generation that authority tried to silence, but couldn’t.
One thing I have to say when it comes to movies that are centered around inner city main characters, is that they have a tendency to go for the cliché. We see heartless thugs played as new school cowboys and white cops that feel like they’re hiding KKK robes under their uniforms. These films tend to be black and white, but the world isn’t black and white.
And neither is this film. They portrayed themselves honestly, as men who had to fight for respect in one of California’s most dangerous neighborhoods. From the beginning, it’s easy to see how every day is a struggle to maintain power and dignity. Eazy-E appears on the scene during a drug deal gone bad, moments before a LAPD tank rolls into a drug den. Dre gets pistol whipped in the face after getting into a tussle with a Crenshaw Mafia soldier on the bus and Ice Cube is a man ready to fight in the blink of an eye, even over something as small as getting shortchanged. They don’t play themselves off as martyrs. Instead, they make you understand why they made the decisions they did, even if you don’t agree with them.
Jerry Heller (Paul Giammatti), who is often seen as responsible for the dissolution of NWA, is played not as a character, but as a person. He’s one part villain, and one part guardian angel, both standing up for the group he represents and trying to drive them apart at the same time. They didn’t make Heller the easy villain. Instead, they gave him true motivation and a true duplicitous nature without making him a one dimensional villain who only wanted to break up the group.
This is an extremely well done film that uses gritty realism to get its point across and gives us a deeper, more dimensional look at NWA’s rise to fame and subsequent breakup. Even if you’re not a fan of the music genre, Straight Outta Compton is straight up worth the watch.
WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!