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Hustle & Flow
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Hustle & Flow More at IMDbPro »

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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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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Uncomfortably great

9/10
Author: Peter Swanson (bumwuh@yahoo.com) from United States
23 July 2007

I didn't expect to like this film, but I've recently seen Terrence Howard in Idlewild and Craig Brewer's wonderful Black Snake Moan, so when my wife suggested we try it, I agreed. I was knocked out by Terrence Howard's performance.

I've wondered what I'll say if someone asks me "What's that movie about?" On the surface it's the story of a pimp who wants to be a rapper. What it's really about is human aspiration, the hopes and dreams which keep us alive. It's about caring for the people around you. It's about perseverance in the face what look like insurmountable obstacles. It's about real people.

I'm a 60-year-old white guy, and even the rhythm of rap usually makes me want to run from the room and plug my ears. Having now, through this film, shared DJay's creative process, I can now appreciate the message and emotion behind it. I still don't like the medium in which the message is sent, but I'm no longer instantly repelled by it. I've found myself humming "It's hard out here for a pimp," which is so ironic that I just laugh when I find myself doing it.

I didn't watch last year's Academy Awards, and was not aware that Terrence Howard had been nominated for his performance in this film. I was delighted to learn that he had been, as performances in low-budget films seem often to be overlooked. This an excellent, if disturbing, film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Possibly the best film of the year

9/10
Author: Justin Behnke from Fishers, IN
28 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

About 30 minutes into Hustle and Flow, not only did I think Terrence Howard had already earned his Oscar nomination, but had already won it. In DJay, he creates a very deep and layered character capable of brutal violence and unexpected moments of compassion at times. But mostly, he's just a real guy caught up in unreal businesses pursuing a dream.

While Howard absolutely owns this film, the film is made great by the supporting cast that surrounds DJay, especially the women. In what is a very weak field of Supporting Actresses, both Taryn Manning (Nola) and Taraji Henson (Shug) would have been very worthy nominees this year. It is through these women (and the performances of the actresses) that we are able to see the gentler side of DJay. The moment where Shug tells DJay how much singing on the demo tape meant to her was one of the films best moments. As was the exchange between DJay and Nola as he's being arrested. Another great sequence happens when Key's wife Yevette (Elise Neal) gives up trying to fight her husbands dream and instead brings over the sandwiches. Every character in this film is deep and makes you care about them.

I thought that, towards the end of the third act, when things take a turn for the worse between DJay and Skinny Black, that the film briefly spiraled out of control and got a little away from itself. Thankfully, it reeled itself back in pretty quickly once DJay was in prison. Maybe the three minutes or so of brutal violence and gunshots could have been replaced with a different way of DJay being incarcerated.

Terrence Howard hooked me from the beginning and his performance didn't let me go until it was over. I was very much on the edge of my seat the whole time in a film that doesn't have much edge of your seat action. Hustle and Flow is frequently funny, dramatic, moving, shocking and sometimes all of them. And it's moral is that it's OK to have a dream and pursue it. And it doesn't do it in a hokey way. Unforgettable and possibly the best film of 2005.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Movie OK, problem with nomination...

6/10
Author: JCBar from St. Louis
27 February 2006

OK – I know this movie wasn't made for old white guys like me. I rented it because Terrence Howard was nominated for best actor, and I was curious. So the fact that I don't think rap is an art form, don't think it's music, don't think it's worthy of the money it generates is irrelevant. I find the whole rapper, guns, ho's, violence, ghetto deal – with the strutting, macho posturing that accompanies it to be very irritating. And while I understand the money they have (and I don't) is a big factor to this dislike, hopefully I'm not too obvious about it…

But as to the film, Terrence does a fine job of playing a ghetto black – he was very believable as some no-hoper hustler. And my equally old wife and I watched the whole movie and found it entertaining, funny at times, and were very appreciative that it wasn't as profane and violent as it could have been. So the movie is not the issue, although I couldn't refrain from commenting on rap above.

But I do not understand the acting 'stretch' I keep hearing regarding the lead actor; and why this justifies his nomination in this somewhat above average film. He's an actor, and judging from his role in 'Crash', he can play other roles as well. But that's just it – I don't think for a black actor, that playing upper class, and then playing ghetto is all that tough of a stretch. Oprah does it whenever she wants to make a point, Denzel does it at a drop of a hat; Richard Pryor was another example; heck, I bet you could even throw in Bill Cosby. Black entertainers do this easily (and hopefully this doesn't qualify as insensitive stereotyping). Hell, almost all the rappers who go on to acting roles CAN act between these extremes. Now, some might say 'why should you penalize this talent (or even minimize it) by not recognizing it at award time? You wouldn't talk about ignoring or penalizing Bobby Bonds just because he makes it look easy would you?'. And I don't have an answer for that one – it's a good point.

Possibly this performance being nominated is not all that bad a deal anyway. It's just that maybe it took a nomination away from a Morgan Freeman, or heck even a Jeff Daniels. Besides, I'm still carrying a grudge that Guy Pearce wasn't nominated for 'Memento'.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Thought Provoking Movie

9/10
Author: rememberbkind from United States
12 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I thought this movie was great. I came away thinking about all people who have a dream...no matter what. Although I am not a huge fan of rap I can see it's value. Some of the lyrics in the songs are much better than the stuff that some popular rock songs are made of. (I didn't really think these lyrics were very inspiring but I did like the beat) Think of all of the kids that want to grow up to be a rock star? I think it's great that your 15 year old has the opportunity to teach other kids, who are either yanking his chain or are quite possibly ignorant, not to believe what they see in movies. It would be great if he felt confident enough to help them be critical thinkers and to lose the tendency to generalize. I think it would be great if you could talk this through with your son and have it be a learning experience.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Way cool movie! Probably the best "rap" movie I've ever seen!

9/10
Author: badgrrlkane from Irving, TX
12 January 2006

Very cool movie! First off i don't like very much rap music.I'm more of a pop,heavy-metal,industrial/electronica music listener,but the next day after seeing the phenomenal film,Hustle & Flow, I had the songs stuck in my head, & in a good way. Great performances from Terence Howard ( who was also great in last years's Crash) & from Taryn Manning & Taraj P Henson (who was also great in 2001's Baby Boy). Everyone else was really good as well but these 3 made the film.And,when the Academy Award Nominations are announced,it'll be a damn shame if Terence Howard is left out for his wonderful role, as the first time ever in a movie a pimp,is portrayed as a decent human-being,when really he's not! And,it will be a so sorry day if MS. Henson is denied a Best Supporting Actress Nom at least, if not a win, as the character of Shug is a very powerful role. Great movie about people who are on the lower tiers of society today. Great rapping & great screenplay.Terence Howard will be the next Denzel Washington! **** out of *****

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Sums up the M town music scene

9/10
Author: mf1000 from NY from Memphis
4 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Being a filmmaker from Memphis living in NY, I picked up a lot of small things that neither the audience or my film-making circle understood. The hand held rough, blues-y, new south is new to a lot of people. They have been exposed to the commercialized view of the new south and not what it has and will always be to many people from that region. I enjoyed Howard's performance in the fact that there are a lot of people "coming- of-age" in Memphis and there is a lot of stories to tell of the new struggles and glass ceilings that remain. my work reflects my hometown and is something that the south does to an artist: it creeps into your work with conviction. The best scene of this is the scene where Terrence and Nola are in the church. Even though he is a pimp he still goes to church!!! Now many may think this is contradictory, but in the south, everyone's profession is rooted in the church. The scene where he describes his midlife crisis and tries to restrain his fear is something that is programed in the south for us...to be hard on women, and maintain a sense of control of everything around you....Craig Brewer does this very well with his characters. If you notice, ALL the female characters in the film are submissive to some male character or another...another staple of the south. But also, the idea goes the same universally-men are even harder on each other as we saw in the skinny black and DJ 3rd act climax....

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

From Pulitzer -Worthy Beginning to Pat Ending - SPOILERS

7/10
Author: (ak@stuporheroes.com) from Hollywood, CA
29 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The performances were all (except that of Ludicrous, which was just OK) outstanding. I thought the first third of the movie was so spectacular that I said aloud to myself, "Forget Oscar, this should win a Pulitzer!" But right after I thought that, the movie changed. The movie went from layered and rich poetry to pat Hollywood formula. At the moment when the pimp made his #1 girl kiss the microphone, it all came crashing back to Earth for me.

The microphone as penis metaphor was so obvious and on the nose it made me mad. Making her kiss the microphone is no different from making her suck a d$#k. I'm sure that analogy is what the writer/director intended; but nonetheless, in either case the hooker has little power. Isn't she supposed to be on an upward trajectory of self-empowerment? Didn't she just participate in that "I'm in charge" scene? Rather than oblige and actually kiss the mic, she should have sung into it or spoken into it or somehow changed what he asked her to do so that she preserved even an inkling of personal power.

After that scene, the movie continued to be typical and, I dare say, more and more sexist. The male protagonist becomes increasingly nice and "gives" his women more and more power. The women don't claim it for themselves, they have to wait for it to be delivered. OK, fine so he's an ogre with a heart, but then what? Then the "hero" gets ridiculous. He becomes cartoon-angry over the tape in the toilet. Hasn't his character grown to be smarter and more proud than that? Surely his character would know that if Skinny didn't like it someone else would. Cut your losses and move on.

The whole ending sequence made the hero small and ignorant. He wasn't small and ignorant in the beginning, he was just a victim of circumstance embarking on a journey to self-empowerment. His actions at the end were regressive, not progressive. They were the actions of an idiot, not a hero. Sure, we can empathize and understand that he is angry and feels betrayed and that he had all his hopes on that one tape and with that one guy; but any reasonable person, let alone a hero on an upward spiral, would know to not overreact so hugely.

Anyhoo, despite those aspects that I found irritating, it was still a rich and interesting cinematic experience with unbelievable performances, especially from the pimp and his blond "primary investor."

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good, but another one

Author: BBrin from LA, CA
21 August 2005

This is another movie which includes "the hooker with the heart of gold character". Could someone please keep track of how many times this character is reprised. I believe she appears in almost every movie ever made. Of course in H&F, there is a twist, which is that she is counterbalanced by the "pimp with a heart of gold". I like this twist. I give the movie 10 stars for being the first, I know of, to use this character. The other thing that made this movie good was the acting. Also the costuming and set design. The music also was very good. I'm only adding this blather because the algo says I have to. I guess there's no prize for brevity in criticism any more.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good version of a clichéd story

Author: (dj_bassett) from Philadelphia
31 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Small time pimp and drug dealer decides to screw on his courage and make a big push to become a rap star. Basically a very traditional, even corny story, tricked out in urban gear: but scrape away the pimps and hos and you're not all that far removed from something Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland might do. The performances help push the material past the clunky spots: I agree with all of the plaudits for Mr. Howard, in particular. He's a charismatic actor and he makes you feel the pain and frustration of his character's life. He helps bring life to the cliché. Movie staggers a bit in making Howard's character unusually kind and charming for a pimp and drug dealer, and structurally it's adherence to formula means it'll never go beyond a certain level. But for what it is, it's quite good, with some real nice stretches of dialog and some fine acting up and down the line. Recommended to those who like this kind of story.

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