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Idlewild
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Reviews & Ratings for
Idlewild More at IMDbPro »

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48 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

This movie is fun.

8/10
Author: mvegas893-1 from United States
4 September 2006

It is a highly stylized slice of life. As usual, reading through the comments left here, I'm finding that many just can't leave their pretense at the door. It would seem that any film with an all African-American cast set in the American south is required to beat us over the head with an idea we are all (I would hope) aware of. ie; Jim Crow sucked. Instead, this film simply portrays people with hopes and dreams, faults and virtues, capable of love and hate, good and evil. in other words, people. Not "black people". That was refreshing. (and, IMHO, a far stronger statement than one could ever make through heavy-handed symbolism) Is the film perfect? Far from it. The plot is in many ways pedestrian. The film telegraphs plot twists rather than foreshadowing them. However, are there flashes of brilliance? Good Lord yes. These are two astonishingly talented men (Andre and Big Boi) and simply as a showcase for that talent, this film succeeds. If you just sit down and let the film wash over you, you will enjoy. If you over-think, and ask it to be something it isn't, you won't. It's that simple.

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44 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining anachronism

7/10
Author: Robert A. Wicks (rbrtwicks@aim.com) from Atlanta, GA
26 August 2006

Considering the fact that this was a movie starring two rappers, I wasn't expecting much. I was very pleasantly surprised. Outkast aren't just any old rappers, as their fans could no doubt inform you. Most of their material, even though much of it is anachronistic for a film set in the 1930s, nonetheless, fit the movie quite well. Some of the pieces, of course, aren't rap. Indeed, Andre 3000 might as well no longer be called a rapper, considering the breadth of his material. The plot was surprisingly well thought out. It had a certain symmetry, yet was not completely predictable. I enjoyed the whole thing, and didn't have to close my eyes thinking "this is so stupid" all through the film.

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33 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

IDLEWILD - a film for people that love the cinema

9/10
Author: zanity from UK
8 December 2006

There is a very good reason that films in general are getting significantly worse in every quality. Why? Because in our time, when a film is made that is intelligent or creative in some significant way, it is usually ripped to pieces by critics and the general audience, teaching 'Hollywood' a lesson that they take to heart all too well.

Idlewild is a first rate musical, and feast for the eyes. Like 'Running Scared (2006)', the director believes that there is no reason a movie made in the 21st century should not benefit from all the options modern film technology offers (and no, I don't mean the visual rubbish that assaults the eyes in recent Tony Scott efforts). However, the state-of-the-art methods are used strictly in the service of 'old fashioned' film entertainment values, and this seemingly 'insults' the 'too cool for school' types, for whom enjoyment seems to be the last reason to pay to see a movie.

The actors are great, the acting is fine, and the production values are top notch. The story is a little clichéd, and as a result, the writer does seem to have cut-n-pasted from various familiar sources. However, this is a very minor criticism in a film that uses music as much as the spoken word to tell a story.

While the music is (mostly) contemporary, it was written with the aim of slotting into a (fantasy) period drama, and does so beautifully. While many of the performers may seem to have a 'rap' background, if this puts you off seeing Idlewild you are seriously misjudging the creativity and range of their talent.

Some may claim the film is a little 'tame', but a much better description is 'inclusive'. In other words, Idlewild really wants to reach and impress a wide audience, and it is a great pity that this doesn't seem to have happened yet.

Idlewild is a sexy sophisticated 'feelgood' musical- a vanity project for OutKast no doubt, but also a wonderful treat for those that value todays's rarest treasure, a new movie worth making the effort to see.

By the way Idlewild is NOT 'one long music video' (and I'm hard placed to see such comments as 'innocent' given the power of this lie to put people off seeing the movie). So forget any fear of 'opera' (like Evita where everything is sung) or MTV masquerading as a film. This is a HBO production, like Deadwood or the Sopranos, and that means quality first, especially the quality of the dramatic presentation. However, although Idlewild is an 'adult' film (thank heaven- the PG13 sludge is killing me), it lacks the extreme and explicit content of many of HBO's TV productions, so may be safely viewed by more 'sensitive' types.

If you watch a lot of films, and have no greater pleasure than finding an unexpected gem, give Idlewild a go. It really is 'the one that got away'.

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37 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

It's Chicago meets Cabaret

9/10
Author: raya165 from United States
23 August 2006

This movie is one of the best musical films I had ever seen. This film makes you wanna see this film over and over and over again. It dosen't matter if you hate Outkast, this film will make you love them and their music they play. Byran Barber's directing of the idea he chose this picture is excellent and even though he's a music video director, he still makes it a great film. If you want to see this film with your kids, then it's better if you make sure that they will be mature about nudity.

This film is a beautifully made film and I believe that this film should at least win an Oscar for their main song by Outkast, I don't know the name, but it has a catchy tune. GREAT FILM 10/10

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29 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Outkast does it again

Author: Heather Henderson (UrbanFilmCritic) from United States
24 August 2006

What could Outkast do next to top the success of their double cd speakerboxx/love below? The Impresarios of Rap present Idlewild—a hip hop love story set against the daily grind of running a juke joint during Prohibition in the town of Idlewild, GA. All the players were there, the piano player, the singer, and of course, the bootlegger. Whether it's a murder mystery, a gangsta tale, or a love story can be debated after you see it…just go see it.

Idlewild, a film by Bryan Barber starred Antoine Patton and Andre Benjamin. However, the music was done by Big Boi and Andre 3000. Outkast fans will get the difference. The rest will have to see to believe. Let us not forget, where there is a Big Boi and an Andre there will be a fair amount of quirky, a little bit of weird, a lot of imagination, and some stepping outside of the "speakerboxx".

The film had the musical stage appeal of Chicago with the black gangsta love of movies like Harlem Nights and Hoodlum. But unlike those Yankee tales, this story took place in the south before it became dirty or is it derty???? (where's my ebonics dictionary?) It speaks to a time and place accurately and without insult. It was clever and funny but also a little predictable. Which was ideal because the storyline is actually just scenery for all the incredible musical numbers and didn't need to be complicated. The characters had that two-dimensional feel reminiscent of the melodramas so popular in the 1930's. Idlewild rose to the challenge and very successfully captured the times, which is often a difficult task in a period piece.

Saying Outkast has an innovative approach to music is like saying that guy Picasso is alright with a paintbrush. The original score by Outkast blended the sound of the 30's, the jazz, the blues and the swing with rap and soulful rhythm and blues. It was kind of like a family reunion for home-grown syncopation. It was ingenious as well as inspired. The choreography only complimented the musical numbers giving the audience a complete juke joint experience.

The film also offered notable cameo appearances by Cicily Tyson, Ving Rhames, Bruce Bruce, Patty Labelle and the tease of Tony award winning Ben Vereen who doesn't dance. Also noteworthy is Macy Gray's performance as the falling diva Taffy.

If Rappers must make movies, they should all be so good.

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22 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

shame, shame, shame

9/10
Author: EddieLeeHenderson from United States
22 September 2006

Here we have the most creative Hip Hop/Rap duo teaming with one of the most creative music video directors on a very good film. I can't believe people aren't seeing this movie...especially black folks. We support some of the most drab and unimaginative crap in music and film but won't support good art. (Maybe it needs more violence or ass shaking in it.)

Anyways, Idlewild has a great story, great music, and highly creative camera work and directing. The acting isn't excellent, but it does not detract from the film. I look forward to seeing more work from Mr. Barber. I wish there were more black filmmakers like him and more music artists like Outkast. Let's move forward people.

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Idlewild is a movie that tries to attain great musical heights, but fails as often as it succeeds.

7/10
Author: torsloke-2 from LA, CA
25 August 2006

Idlewild's greatest fault is that it is really uneven in tone. There were parts of it I really loved – the prologue scenes, and some of the musical numbers, and then parts that just seemed to go splat on the screen. The tone of the beginning, very witty and hell-bent-for-leather, was great and seemed to be a great frame for a story about two hustlers - it seemed reminiscent of the winking, headlong tone of "The Sting" - and if the movie could have maintained that tone it might have been a tour de force. But other parts of the film were morose and uninteresting. Which leads us, unfortunately, to Andre 3000.

I understand making 3000 the Luke Skywalker and Big Boi the Han Solo, but Boi's character of Rooster was so much more interesting a character that whenever he wasn't on the screen the movie just went flat. It just seems to be a bad idea to have a main character who seemingly has no desire to attain his dreams – he's kind of an anti-Joseph-Campbell hero – and the other characters have to shove Percival toward his dreams like corralling a steer to slaughter. His mortician father is supposed to be his obstacle to the life Percival is meant to live, but it seems apathy is a more likely stumbling block; Percival looks more uncomfortable on stage than he does dressing bodies in the funeral home, instead of coming alive when he performs, which seems to be what the character requires.

I liked the music for the most part, but 3000 is the major failing here as well. His persona (it's hard to say that either he or Boi are acting since their characters hew so closely to the personas they have created for OutKast) is such the brooding artist that when the movie needs a shot of "I've finally made it!" razz ma tazz, he's not up to the task and the ending comes away like a lead balloon. I thought that for the most part they did a rather clever job blending the 30's music with the OutKast brand of the hippity hop, and my only complaint here is that Barber directed the music scenes like music videos and so the actors are obviously lip-synching, where a live performance captured for the film might have been exhilarating, here it comes off with the rote polished quality of any hip hop video with the actors seeming to walk through their performances rather than actually performing. The anachronistic quality of the songs isn't as jarring as I thought it might be, it's just the presentation of the music that takes you out of the time and place.

Otherwise, it's shot really well. There are some innovative visual effects that help guide the story, and the dances are staged with such vigor and bawdy realism that they have the gutbucket charm of the early "race" musicals.

The period look of the film is gorgeous; there's a whole lot of production value here - the sets and costumes notorious clotheshorses 3000 and Boi sport made me drool a little, and the ensemble cast is fantastic. It's Depression-Era Black South, but this particular vision seems to be a time and place little explored in cinema. With the exception of a touching scene late in the film in which Rooster, wayward after his long-suffering wife finally leaves him, encounters a religious woman literally at the end of the road, gives her some money and receives a Bible in return, the majority of the movie takes place among the black bourgeoisie and race or class is never an issue. Unfortunately, that touching scene is just an excuse to set up an unbelievably cliché and predictable scene later on when the Bible does what most cinematic Holy Books end up doing).

Overall, the plot is cliché at times and predictable more often than that, and gives the sense of a first-time writer/director finding his way, and there are some scenes that just don't make sense – without spoilering, there's a glaring flaw that happens in the crucial first act that's both sloppy and stylistically cliché storytelling.

The biggest travesty, though is something that didn't hit me until I was on the way home. Ben Vereen is cast as 3000's mortician father, the supposed restraining influence. Toward the end of the movie they have a confrontation, which eventually leads to a reconciliation – I can't possibly be giving anything away by saying that, or you've never seen a movie before. But on the way home it struck me - how do you have Ben Vereen in this movie and not write it into the script to have Ben Vereen DANCING?!? He's BEN VEREEN for crying out loud! Anyone who directs a musical and doesn't see the necessity of having the most talented cast member perform should have their DGA card revoked. All right, I got a little polemical there, but it seems a grievous oversight to overlook one of the film's greatest resources especially when you're supposed to be honoring the past, and this oversight is somehow indicative of the whole project (and now that I look at it, Patti LaBelle never sang in her cameo as the real Angel Davenport, either. Crispity Crunchity! All right, call the DGA, I'm serious, now.).

Idlewild is a movie that attempts some rather ambitious things; it's just a shame it achieved so few.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

I waited over a year for this movie, and it was worth it!!!

10/10
Author: Cheffie3 from Illinois
5 September 2006

From the opening to the closing credits, this movie is exciting to watch and never disappoints. It has everything, great choreography great music (I normally dislike musicals), nice plot, and very good actors.

It opens with the saying that the world is a stage and the men and women are just actors, it goes on to show two very different friends grow up and deal with the choices they've made, or in some cases haven't made. It has the usual elements of a movie; love, loss, betrayal, murder, but what makes this movie stand out is the visual and audial stimulation, the 1920's/30's costumes which weren't afraid to show a woman's femininity and the men who didn't leave the house unless they were "suited" up. The stage performances were a little wild (and so is Outkast, which makes then so great) and unusual. I love Roosters' last performance. Outkast has a way of stating the obvious about life, but in a light you normally wouldn't see it in.

I highly recommend this movie, and don't leave until the very last words have rolled off the screen!

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Terrific Escapist Entertainment

7/10
Author: sacovertons from United States
29 August 2006

We think this movie was just great fun. It is a bit chopped up, but that's a minor problem. Choreography is tight and excellent; music is deleriously hip. Casting and acting was a big plus - stellar performances all around. Cecily Tyson is such a master - adds richness to even the smallest role. Don't agree that we'll see award nominations here though. Directing could have been much much better. The Director failed this exceptional cast - but we're happy that the film was made. We felt like the screenplay could have been written for this cast, and the juxtaposition of rap music over 1930's rhythm worked in a crisp and welcome way. We never tire of those old cars, clothes and styles, but we're grateful for all of this "new" talent and exceptional music. WELL worth the time!

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

music/dancing - brilliant. plot - not so great.

6/10
Author: Elyzabeth Joy (lyzard74@yahoo.com) from United States
26 August 2006

I had been excited about seeing this movie for months since seeing the trailer. I love musicals and this looked to be really promising. In some ways, it completely lived up to its expectations and in others, it failed miserably. If you are interested in the musical aspect of it, it's brilliant. The dancing is good, the characters incorporate the songs with their personal lives and these scenes are a lot of fun to watch. One of the best production numbers is at the very end. The special effects are fun to watch and the cinematography is very well done. The show gets off to a fun start and the characters look promising. Yet, as they age, something gets lost. The story line between Percival and Angel was the only one I found natural and plausible. Rooster has little interaction with his wife which makes that storyline hard to believe and Trumpy's character comes out of no where and tries, unsuccessfully, to run the show. It was interesting to see the members of Outkast in such different roles, especial Percival. The movie was entertaining and I would sit through the boring parts again any time to see how brilliant the dancing and music was.

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