Written by Christian James Haight
The story of Niggaz Wit Attitudes is not one that has been told on the big screen until now, and is definitely a story that was in need of being told. The inspiration, the emotion, and the drama doesn’t seem like a true story, and while some parts of the movie may be exaggerated to fit Hollywood’s needs, the backbone of “Straight Outta Compton” is non-fiction.
Following the group known as N.W.A, director F. Gary Gray explains their defining moments throughout our music’s history. With a beginning middle and end that won’t only engrave the audience with a great story, but one with the passion to inspire those who wish to find their place in music. While the film follows N.W.A, the main focus is the three best-known members of the group, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, played by Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins and O’Shea Jackson Jr. Explaining the difficulties they went through as they became famous musical artists as well as the strain that rise in power put upon their friendships.
The film begins by introducing the three stars individually, allowing for the audience to understand that even though they’re all from Compton, that doesn’t mean they’re stories are at all the same. They live different lives, trying to survive in some of the most dangerous streets throughout California. The group is brought together through the same love for rap, believing that it’s more than just the thug-life-music that many people believe it to be. The group is formed while recording their first song, “Boyz-N-The-Hood,” which became a huge hit. It didn’t take long before Eazy-E was approached by music manager Jerry Heller, played by Paul Giamatti. Heller helps N.W.A meet the right people in order to get signed, where they begin recording platinum and gold albums and touring the country.
The entire group is having a blast, bonding in ways that haven’t successfully been shown on screen in a long time, and creating a voice for everyone and anyone who needs one. Although with any fame given to a person, problems are created, the three stars are put through struggles that test their brotherhood, which adds the kind of drama needed to keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen. The biopic is a few minutes short of two-and-a-half hours long, and while it might be hard to keep still that entire time, every moment of the movie is needed in order to provide the entire story that is full of worthy entertainment.
Besides a select few, the cast is mostly made up of nobody actors who haven’t yet made a name for themselves. In “Straight Outta Compton” these actors proved that they know how to perform, from the incredible chemistry they shared, to the portrayal of emotions that will blind the audience with tears. Jackson Jr. is actually the son of Ice Cube, allowing them to share a remarkable resemblance, but the rest of the cast who have no relation to the original N.W.A group still share a scary resemblance.
Which explains what Gray was going for during casting, trying to find actors that look similar to the actual artists, allowing the audience to feel as if they’re actually watching N.W.A’s story. By finding actors who physically resembled the rappers, it was clear that Gray must have had to work very closely with these actors in order to make “Straight Outta Compton” into the success that it is.
While the backbone of the movie is true, and the inspirations and drive for fame that these young guys had were all very real, there are a few moments in history that were left out of the movie. With Dr. Dre and Ice Cube both producing the biopic, it seems that they chose to leave out some details of their past in order to make themselves seem less thuggish. While this may have been a good idea for a few reasons, it did leave out some key elements to who these men really were, which altogether would be very important to the story.
Giamatti is making a comeback in his career, and here he really shows how much he’s grown since movies like “Big Fat Liar.” This has easily been his career’s best performance. Playing the character of NWA’s band manager, you wouldn’t expect to see a lot from him, but he plays a very important role to the group and for that becomes an important role in the movie. He’s just about the only one in the entire film who is truly recognizable to any average moviegoer, but hasn’t always been as respected as a fine actor. In “Straight Outta Compton” he demonstrates that he can pull off tough roles by showing emotion without even having to speak.
“Straight Outta Compton” may not be worthy of an Academy Award, while the story told is very entertaining and the acting is surprisingly good, it won’t beat out some of the other worthy candidates from this year. Though it needs to be recognized as one of the most impressive films of the summer. It provided an incredible vibe throughout the entire audience as well as a soundtrack that will really bring viewers into the film. N.W.A’s biopic was a story that was needed to be told, and thankfully it finally has been.
- Director: F. Gary Gray
- Writer: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff
- Actors: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell
- Genre: Drama
- Run Time: 2 hours 27 minute
Pros:Incredibly entertaining; well-acted; perfect mix between emotional drama and comedy.
Cons: Missed a few important parts to the story.
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