Someone enjoyed themselves a blaxploitation film or two in their day and not only enjoyed them but sought to emulate them if Hustle and Flow is any indication.
Hustle & Flow (check out the Widescreen Edition), in my opinion, is Craig Brewer’s homage to those successful, yet stereotypical films of the seventies and also a big-up to the south and southern hip hop.
Pimpin’ ain’t easy and no one exemplifies that better then DJay (Terrance Howard) a middle age pimp who realises the window is closing fast if he plans on doing something with his life besides being a twenty dollar a trick pimp and a two bit hustler.
After learning that a local artist turned major hip hop star, Skinny Black (Ludacris), is returning to town on the 4th of July and after a chance meeting with an old school buddy, Key (Anthony Anderson) who records church music and school board meetings for a living, DJay decides that his ticket out is going to be the music he always loved but never pursued.
With the help of Shelby (DJ Qualls) a hip hop lovin’, weed smoking, aspiring producer, white boy; his “snow-bunny” hooker, Nola (Taryn Manning), as his primary investor and his “hooker with the heart of gold’ girlfriend Shug (Taraji P. Henson) for moral support, he sets out to do the impossible: Create a demo, get it to Skinny Black and mange to become the next big thing emerging from Memphis’ storied hip hop scene.
Of course there are major pit falls along the way, from a very angry wife who doesn’t understand why her god-fearing husband wants to spend all of his time with pimps and hos, to microphones that don’t work and questions on where the money is going to come from to get those that will.
Overall, however Hustle and Flow is a story of people wanting more out of life then the hand that was dealt them or through poor decision making, the hand they dealt themselves.
It is a movie about stepping out on faith, even if the world is telling you can’t, about not just dreaming the impossible dream but doing all you can to make it a reality. Brewer does an excellent job of making you not just sympathise with these characters but empathise with them as well. They are all trying to do more them “…just pay rent…’ a sentiment many a person can relate too.
And even though he is peddling flesh for a living, DJay is a likable guy and you can feel his desire to want more, to do better with his life. I would have never pegged pretty boy Terrance Howard for this role of gritty, bottom of the food chain pimp, but his performance lives up to all the hype, and he deserves whatever accolades this film may generate.
There are a few problems with Hustle and Flow, however. For starters the 116min running time is about a half hour to long. The movie could have been cut down a bit and not much would have been lost. Secondly, the ending, while entertaining is a bit of a stretch.
It’s a nice bit of fantasy in an otherwise realistic piece and finally while I enjoyed the movie, I would really like to see a black film that doesn’t involve pimps, hustler, hos and heck even hip hop as its central themes. These are stereotypes I tire of and would like to see more films that represents the varied nature of the Black Diaspora.
All in all Hustle and Flow is worth your time and money. It different from much of the other summer offerings and is definitely not a movie for everyone but it’s perfect for its target audience and maybe a few brave souls who are looking for something different.
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