When asked why he and musical mate Andre 3000 wanted to make the movie "Idlewild," Antwan "Big Boi" Patton answered with one word: "wardrobe."
Well, they are indeed two sharp-dressed men in this flick, but their director, music-video man Bryan Singer, should have considered at least two more, namely "story" and "music," neither of which make much of an appearance in this disappointment.
What little story there is is cribbed directly from "Harlem Nights" and "Under the Cherry Moon" (note to OutKast: Look at what's happened to his Purple Majesty since that flameout - is this really the career arc you want?) In "Idlewild," Big Boi is the main entertainer at a nightclub called the Church. He takes control of the club and has to fight to protect it from gangster (not gangsta) Terrence Howard. Andre is on hand as the piano man, and pretty Paula Patton is the aspiring singer who catches his eye.
"Idlewild" doesn't manage to add anything new to this tired template, and the story in fact goes practically nowhere at all. I would have forgiven all that, however, if the music had carried the day. Alas, that's far from the case here.
After seeing Broadway (and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") veteran Hinton Battle's name in the opening credits as choreographer, I was expecting some rousing, grand-scale musical numbers. And the club does come to life early, with Big Boi performing a song from "Speakerboxxx" and the flappers taking to the floor. He takes the stage in "Idlewild," however, exactly one more time, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Andre, amazingly, does even less singing until the final credits roll. His main number is "She Lives in My Lap," sung to a corpse. It's just as creepy as it sounds here.
There are hardly any new songs in "Idlewild," which is all the more shameful because the accompanying soundtrack contains some instant OutKast classics. I predict Big Boi's "Morris Brown" will be bouncing from car stereo speakers for many, many months to come. Why the lack of new music? I can only guess it's because this movie was finished so long ago, and sat on the shelf for so long, that most of the soundtrack cuts were recorded after the fact.
It's not all bad, however. Terrence Howard admitted to an interviewer that he rushed onto the set of this one after wrapping "Hustle and Flow" without even reading the script first. But even if he was coasting in this flick, he is truly menacing as the "Idlewild" heavy. I can say without exaggeration that every time I see him act I think of a young Marlon Brando, high praise indeed.
In the opening credits of "Idlewild," I also noted that OutKast the actors were credited as "Antwan Patton and Andre Benjamin," while as music supervisors they were credited as "Big Boi and Andre 3000." If only they could have reconciled these dual personalities and filled "Idlewild" with more music and less melodrama, it would have been a much more satisfying flick.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 2:32 PM