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Reviews & Ratings for
Hustle & Flow More at IMDbPro »

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Hustle and Flow- doesn't glamorize, only realizes

10/10
Author: chopshop-1 from United States
7 August 2005

Just saw this film today and I have to say I was intrigued and drawn into the film. Howard's portrayal of a drug-dealer/pimp in a mid life crisis is pure and true. This movie is about a man who has made the wrong decisions and wants to make right. Right in whatever it takes. RIght in the only way he knows how. It's not here to glamorize the lifestyle of a pimp. It's not here to say drug dealing is OK. It's here to show that people make bad decisions and you can change. None of the images or lifestyle make the life of a Memphis Pimp enviable or desirable. Come on, if you say this, did you actually see the movie?? In fact, a God loving Black man with a wife, a respectable paying job, whom D-Jay respects and listens to, is the character of hope.

The character's feel real, real in a way of the area they live in. You get drawn into them, believe them. This movie is not a poster child for anti-drugs, it's not a poster child for blacks who live in a crime free environment, it's a poster child for people living in hard times and hard ways. To find your faults and try to change. The imagery alone was to the respect of the film. Grainy and raw, no special effects here, no glossy imagery. Blown out stylization is nil, this is not a music video. Come'on the guy drives a beat up Cutty with a bad paint job.

As for people saying the ending is anti-climatic. Well what did you want??? A high speed car chase lasting 15 minutes, a no-holds bar shootout with explosions and draining bullet shells??? NO, the only thing this film gives IS a sense of hope. A hope for people who have gone down the bad road and can take these roads "less" traveled and use them to help themselves and the people around them. Life isn't easy folks and just because this film shows the hard side of life, doesn't mean it glamorizes it.

Hollywood didn't want to make it, because no Black men die. Sure there's confrontation, sure there's strife and sure there's street activity, but to go and say that this is negative is to forget that fact that most blacks live in this. Live in this environment. just like D-Jay's lyrics say " this may be new to you, but I've lived with it for years."

Kudos and respect, I give it a "10" just for staying real.

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With apologies to Michael Moore, one can be a "stupid white man" and still like this movie....

Author: fred-287
7 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To quote from the Cramps' anthemic cover of the 1950's hit "Rocket in my Pocket": "Well I don't know about art but I know what I like…." I sure don't know much about Rap/Hip-Hop/Krump/Crunk/whatever, but I know a nice little well-told story when I see one. I'll admit "Hustle & Flow" had not exactly been high on my must-see list but this past Saturday I really wanted to go to a movie; since I don't live in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles, what was available was stuff I'd either seen or didn't care to see…. Then I thought "Well hell, let's give this a shot." Proved to be a good decision on my part.

We're introduced to a somewhat unassuming-looking black guy in his mid-to-late-30's sitting in his vintage car smoking a cigarette as he lays out some down-home philosophy (which gets tellingly repeated near the end) to an unseen character who then is revealed as a young strung-out-looking white chick. If we hadn't known in advance, we needn't have been Einstein to grasp that she's a prostitute and he's her pimp. Eventually a customer pulls up; when the pimp's initial sales pitch fails to sink in, he exasperatedly tells his "ho" to (paraphrasing somewhat) "explain to this gentleman how this situation should proceed." She gets into the john's car and off they go as the pimp sits and watches and smokes. I don't know how the pimp knows that the client is not some psycho who wants to murder his employee. I suppose one develops a "sixth sense" for that sort of thing.

The pimp is played by Terrence Howard, about whose performance even haters of the move have been raving. I kept wondering where the heck I'd seen this guy before---turned out he'd been in "Crash" which I'd seen relatively recently, as a completely different kind of character. As the pimp he's rock solid, never hits a wrong note, a guy born on the wrong side of the wrong tracks suffering from being just intelligent enough to know what a waste his life has been thus far. He sucks on those cigarettes like an oxygen tube. He's followed the "path of least resistance" to become a pimp, has three in his "stable" under his roof; one of them has an infant son, plus another one is pregnant; it's all he can do to keep them all and himself more or less functioning. I doubt I've ever seen a pimp portrayed this realistically in a movie before. I've known plenty of managers in "legitimate" jobs who didn't remotely have the level of "people skills" needed here.

He takes possession of a Casio mini-keyboard which in the movie's best scene he uses to pacify the squalling son of one of his hookers. This gets him thinking about a music career like that of one "Skinny Black," a Memphis "homeboy" he may or may not have known once. He enlists the help of a childhood chum to concoct a recording studio in his home with egg crates stapled to the walls for sound-proofing; they have to turn the fan off to record and (in the second best scene) the pimp has to go placate his hostile neighbor (using marijuana, apparently the universal medium of exchange) whose music is seeping into their recording session. There's a nice atmosphere in all this of "real" people giving it their all to break into a tough business, hinting back to those "Let's put on a show in the barn!" epics from the 1930's. I couldn't begin to say if the music they eventually record is "good" or "bad" by the standards of that genre, but they sure put a lot of heart into it. The bashful stammering pregnant woman who gets dragooned into being a backup singer and who blossoms with each "take" is an absolute joy to watch. She alone was enough to make me believe this really was the South.

Unfortunately it gets a little formulaic towards the end with the requisite violence which we know in advance won't lead to death because at that point too much time has been invested for such a drastic departure. The "somewhat happy" ending seems just a little contrived. But it's all played with absolute conviction & I for one was perfectly happy to "buy into" it. Not since my 1990's favorites "Smoke Signals" and "Ulee's Gold" has a movie made such an appealingly "human" impression on me. It may be the first movie this year since "Kung Fu Hustle" that I see twice.

Towards the end the pimp tells his friend that if the new baby of a prostitute and an unknown john ever asks him if she could be President, "I'll look her in the eye and lie to her….'cause sometimes that's what you gotta do." Damn, that was poignant. Some day, I reckon, there'll be a black President, and a female President, maybe even both at once; it'd be kinda cool if I could live to see that….

The part of the church-going somewhat-happily-married sound engineer must have been a cakewalk for Anthony Anderson after his turn as the demonic drug lord on the best cop show on TV, i.e. "The Shield." This guy has a genuinely approachable "everyman" quality; I predict he'll have the next long-running "mainstream" sitcom after that of Bill Cosby and Will Smith.....

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Fictional character D-Jay can get Crunk all the way to Grammys

10/10
Author: William F. Moore from United States
4 August 2005

I heard that they are positioning Terence Howard for an Oscar. But the real movement already began when the H&F soundtrack was sold out in Los Angeles with major and mom/pop retailers and I had to find it in Hollywood. The soundtrack is so dope (yeah, I said dope) that any new appearances by Terence Howard for movie promotion should be restricted to musical performances by D-Jay doing live performances(where appropriate). I'm excited about the buzz in the streets on H&F--the movie, and soundtrack. It's phenomenal that Howard has pulled it off so well that people are paying more attention to D-Jay, and "Whup Dat TricK", than actually seeing the movie--although the tracks are a hit, you cant get the full scope and feeling without seeing the movie first. I'm officially casting my nomination and vote for D-Jay as best new hip-hop artist. 'Yeah, Mane!!"

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Breakout role for Howard

7/10
Author: rosscinema (rosscinema@comcast.net) from Oceanside, Ca.
4 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Often an actor will kick around Hollywood without getting the awards or accolades and be one of those recognizable faces that pop up in films (Robert Duvall, Paul Giamatti) but every once in a while things can change in just one year with just the right role and performance that opens everyone's eyes. Story is about DJay (Terrence Howard) who's a smalltime Memphis dealer and pimp but hates what he's doing and dreams of doing something else in life and one day gets the idea of becoming a rap artist. Djay runs into an old friend named Key (Anthony Anderson) and learns that he's a sound engineer which gives him the idea of asking for his help to make a demo tape so that he can give a copy to a rapper named Skinny Black (Ludacris) whom DJay knew years earlier.

*****SPOILER ALERT***** Nola (Taryn Manning) is DJay's cash cow but she also hates what she's doing but he still needs her to use her services in order to make money to finance the recording of his tape. While DJay writes the lyrics for his songs Key has his friend Shelby (DJ Qualls) help mix the music and they also enlist the help of DJay's pregnant girlfriend Shug (Taraji P. Henson) who is used for backup vocalization. Once the demo tape is finished DJay heads to a local bar (run by Isaac Hayes) where Skinny Black is having a party but after handing him his tape things go horribly wrong and DJay ends up in the custody of the police.

This is only the second feature for writer/director Craig Brewer and immediately his script sucks the audience in with the very first shot of DJay talking to Nola about his thoughts of not only about being a man but one's opportunities in life. Howard's performance is revolutionary and with his James Brown-like hair his character DJay is shown as a man who clearly knows that he can't be a pimp forever and Howard perfectly channels this man's desperation and focus in trying to change his life. Howard has been a respected character actor for over 10 years and his face had become pretty familiar for audiences but this is the year that should not only change his career but also the way others will look at him in terms of his talent. Earlier this year Howard gave another solid performance in "Crash" and 2005 seems to be his breakout year and will hopefully lead him to being a leading man in other interesting films because he's one of those actor's that has paid his dues to get to this spot. This film also boasts some good supporting roles with Manning and Henson standing out as the women in DJay's life and it's time for some filmmaker to give Manning a bigger and well written part. I found her character a tad under written but she does have one strong scene where she admits how much she hates prostituting herself and one can't help but think her character deserved more to do. While I can't say that this film is truly realistic (although it's more relevant than the Eminem myth "8 Mile") it still captures the look of the seedy side of Memphis perfectly and shows DJay for all of his flaws like taking his whores money and throwing out one of his girlfriends (with his own child!) into the street. This is one of those low budget films that not only gives a young director the opportunity to show he's a filmmaker to watch but it also gives an actor like Howard (who for years has been under-appreciated) the role of a lifetime and show that he's ready to establish himself.

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At Last, Some Honesty

10/10
Author: jeanbridge from United States
4 August 2005

The first thing I ask a movie like this to be is honest. If you're not going to give me romance and white dresses and beautiful vistas, then be honest. But if you're going to be honest, don't be cynical. Hustle & Flow is wonderful. It will never be a Hollywood movie. But the grit, the sweat, the hurt, the grimness of poverty, the hope and yes, love - it's all there. I didn't see one phony face, hear one phony line.

Like his first movie, The Poor & Hungry, Craig Brewer has an intelligent eye that I haven't seen matched by anyone except perhaps Satyajit Ray, for the poetry of poverty and small lives. Brewer doesn't romanticize it, doesn't condemn it, doesn't celebrate it (that would be a Hollywood movie). He just sees it, and somehow, miraculously, let's us see it. Then he takes us beyond our preconceptions and judgments into the hearts of the people he portrays. I can't call them characters because they're too real.

Terrance Howard is superb; so many people have already lauded his performance that I won't say anymore about that here. So is the rest of the cast - Sug, Nola, Key. I can't say enough good things about this movie. So, turn off your TV and walk yourself to Hustle & Flow where the good stuff is. Even if you detest crunk / rap / hip-hop, go see it. Even if you don't want to know about 'niggas and hoas' go see it. If you value honest movies, you won't be sorry.

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This is not a formula film

9/10
Author: smitha_75
1 August 2005

If like me you hate overly formulaic films, films that you have seen over and over again with different titles then Hustle and Flow will be a real treat. The movie focuses on what makes a movie great, the acting and the script. Everything else is an extra.

The movie shows that the reality of life is that a lot of people end up living lives that were not their dreams or not even lives that they would have chosen but instead lives they just fell into. Nevertheless, you live that life the best you can while still holding on to that dream. Often that dream is simply nothing more than there has to be something better or something more.

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This story is unbelievably good I had to like it

Author: MyGoodWish from United States
30 July 2005

This movie was a lot better than I expected, and I expected something decent -in spite of the usual rave reviews that everything gets these days.I was really smacked upside the head by this one because it was unique with the casting and the underlying tension in the story. This is not that boring ass 8 mile crap,and if your afraid of hearing the "N" word then just don't go to see this movie. This story is painfully easy to relate to because it's about struggling to achieve a blurred dream and convincing yourself that "it ain't over for you" as one of the songs say.Most people can relate to this unless they've already given up.The casting has a natural racial mix that really really felt good. Too bad Spielberg and Scorsese can't cast like this. The raps were hard and good ...they were actually a member of the cast and a real pleasure.Whether you like rap or not you'll enjoy the honesty of it. Terrence owned this role while not over acting it,like so many actors do lately.I'll buy this soundtrack even though I'll have to use earphones on it because it's pretty raw.

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good film!

7/10
Author: shedale from United States
23 July 2005

Better than 8 mile, as rap movies go. TERRANCE HOWARD, got off!!! This role kinda reminded me of the role TERRANCE, played in the movie, DEAD PRESIDENTS, I have followed his work, and his ability to play different types of characters...good/bad guys, to corporate exec/lawyers, Confirms my thoughts that he is one of the most under rated actors in Hollywood! Paula Jai Parker, is no stranger to playing a street hooker, as she played in the movie PHONE BOOTH, she was very convincing. I just hope she does not get "locked", into these type of roles. It could be damaging to her career! Some females, are gonna have a problem with the female characters in this film, no doubt, But if they can get pass all that, the guts of the film will clearly appear! As we all know, "PIMP'N AIN'T EASY", so let's try the RAP GAME!!

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A raw yet heartfelt story

9/10
Author: Laura R. from United States
17 July 2005

This newcomer writer/director manages to masterfully encapsulate the audience in a world to which most could not fathom. These seriously flawed characters take us on a journey that tugs at our heartstrings, while reminding us that to err is human, especially while risking it all to "walk the talk." The entire cast was amazing. Terrence Howard proves to be a true talent once again, this time teasing us with his harsh lyrics and passionate vocals. Anthony Anderson delivers an outstanding performance as Terence's character flashes a mirror that has him reflecting on his own decisions and position in life. The characters are all highly evolved and make the experience that much more interesting. I highly recommend this film to everyone and anyone, rapper fan or not.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Threatens to undo all its good work and morals about effort but remains a steady and interesting look at hope.

7/10
Author: johnnyboyz from Hampshire, England
30 July 2008

Is Hustle and Flow about dreams? Most definitely. Does the film tell us that dreams can come true no matter what? No, it doesn't but what it does get across is the message that you should try to achieve them, no matter what happens or what situation you're in. This is the kind of lecture Hustle and Flow gets across in an engaging and realistic manner thanks to the final few scenes which border on tragedy at its very best when a certain someone who a certain someone else looks up to dismisses the dream in an instant after so much work. For a film to focus on someone whom most would consider part of the dregs of society; have them go through so much, but not in the way of neatly plotted narrative, and then to have the bubble threaten to burst is a brave move because it could so easily be misread as a message that no matter what, you will fail.

But right nearer the end, the film bails itself out by having its protagonist placed in a position of power from which others will look up to him in the same manner he once looked up to others. This is a brave film that introduces Djay (Howard) as someone you wouldn't give five minutes of your time to before taking him on this journey and then having the audacity to hammer home the wrong ideation. Djay is an African-American living in Memphis but he represents any living being who feels as if they're stuck in a rut without having found their 'form' or their calling. Like most African-Americans in Hollywood films, he is a pimp with few redeeming qualities. But the surprise here is the manner in which Hustle and Flow grabs this protagonist after a relatively low-key; urban cause and effect fuelled opening and has them suffer an epiphany so early on with two incidences opening his mind: that being the acquiring of an old electronic keyboard and the chance encounter with Key (Anderson), an old school buddy.

The fact Djay specifically mentions his childhood when toying with the mock keyboard is one thing but the further emphasis on Key's character as a friend from school and the fact he is now in the music producing industry are two things that I feel call Djay into the world of music – they push him over the line if he was not already on the brink, albeit he perhaps did not know he was. The film at its core is about how one man can venture outside of the boundaries he knows like the back of his hand. Djay is a pimp and while he is not happy in that role, it is a role he seems accustomed to. His trading and dealing within his profession sees him sit in a car and talk every so often to customers perhaps interested in the girl he sits beside – it is simplistic and Djay is in a groove but the film follows a 'promotion' of sorts when he is elevated into the world of music. But the film covers the dangers of venturing outside this groove if anything else and the study is quite brilliant.

It is not only Djay that the film touches on when it comes to characters being out of the boundaries of comfort. The film tells us the basic message that in order to achieve, do not keep yourself in the passage you're currently in and this counts for Djay but Key's scenario of already having a seemingly 'perfect' life is equally interesting.

As a character, Key has elevated himself above Djay's prior position and has a nice house compared to Djay's dwelling; a loyal wife whom we elevate above Djay's girls thanks to the scene in her living room in which they sit in opposing positions, the simplest of compliments breaking out into an argument between Djay's two representatives and he also has a living in the music business which we put in stark contrast to Djay as a pimp. As the friendship rekindled wears on, Key will be tested in his patience and so will his relationship with his wife who is most concerned about the time he spends at the house with so many of the loose women she has recently had prior contact with. But as the film develops through its musically driven narrative complete with Oscar winning 'It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp' which in itself is about the rut and prior groove Djay found himself in, it becomes apparent that the hero of the hour is eyeing up a bigger prize and that is a rendez-vous with now legendary rapper Skinny Black (Ludacris).

For the final third to be so involved and so decisive with the climax of this dream is quite extraordinary. The feeling of all or nothing is really put across in an impressive manner during this particular passage and the 'certain failure' which partly comes with this sort of story is somewhat harrowing in the sense that not only does it seem Djay might fail but the film may seem as if it will put across the wrong message completely. But the film is not that nasty and isn't about to undo all its hard work. A grittier and more hard hitting ending might well have worked against the film more than anything but for what it is, Hustle and Flow is an interesting and satisfying film which will give a sense of feeling and one of brooding atmosphere as it steers its way towards a dramatic climax.

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