Hustle & Flow (2005) Poster


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Terrence Howard is phenomenal!
fincherfan2220 December 2005
Incredibly moving, yet definitely not for everyone, Hustle & Flow tells the story of D-Jay, an incredibly conflicted Memphis pimp down on his luck. In one of the most raw and intense performances of recent memory, newcomer Terrence Howard embodies D-Jay with an animal-like ferocity that will help you overcome what few formulaic clichés embody the script. In his mid forties, D-Jay seems too old and far too nice for his profession, and his "hos" seem to take notice. You see, D-Jay represents a lifetime of failed dreams, ambitions, and wrong turns. It seems as if it could all be over, but then fate offers him the opportunity to realize his life-long goal of becoming a successful rap star. D-Jay pours his heart and soul into his music, just as Howard pours his into the performance, and the result is somewhat of a urban Rocky, a true underdog tale. This is perhaps the first hip-hop film to actually get it right, and everything that 8-Mile should have been. Don't let the subject matter keep you from enjoying Howard's brutal tour-de-force.
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A Fantastic film... but not for everyone.
nitejrny28223 July 2005
As a member of the Hollywood community, I was blown away by this film... By the tight screenplay, the professional direction, and the phenomenal acting. In my opinion, I think this is one of the best films of the year so far.

With that said, it is not a film for children. It is not a film meant to portray ideal role models for children. It IS a film meant to realistically depict the lives of people who live at the very bottom of America's socioeconomic ladder.

If you find yourself unable to reserve judgment against people born into a life so vastly different than your own, you will probably not like this film. In order to appreciate it, you have to be able to see past the moral and ethical ambiguities of these characters.

So if anyone feels unsure whether they can handle the ugliness of this type of world, but still feels curious enough to see it, take a cue from the Anthropologists...

When studying a culture vastly different than your own, make sure to leave the rights and wrongs of your society at home. Because once you impose the moral judgment and ethical standards of your world upon another's, you've sacrificed your objectivity. And by doing so, miss the very point of empathy.
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Powerful stuff
dfranzen7013 February 2006
Terrence Howard plays a Memphis pimp who decides to give hardcore rapping a shot in this arresting, gritty drama. Howard plays DJay, who pimps girls out of his beat-up Chevy Nova. When he comes into the possession of an electronic keyboard, DJay plays around with it and finds he has a talent for writing and performing hard, violent lyrics.

On its face, this seems like a typical "man rises from the ashes of his hardscrabble life to experience success and then watches it all crash down around him" kind of movie. It's not a movie about suffering, success, and redemption, in other words. But it's not as predictable as it may seem at first blush, and Howard is not your typical actor, by any shot.

DJay lives with his small stable of prostitutes in a tumble-down shack in the Memphis ghetto. As pimps go, he's not exactly Donald Trump. Some dance for an exotic club during the day and hook at night; some hook all day. But the money's not rolling in for DJay, who remains somewhat confident that he'll someday come out ahead. When he obtains the keyboard, inspiration strikes, and a chance encounter with an old classmate (Anthony Anderson) who's now a producer (of sorts) gives DJay the opportunity to jump out of the rotten life he's carved for himself.

This never feels like a typical rise-and-fall story, and that's thanks in no small part to the powerful performance by Howard, who's much better here than in the critically lauded (by some) Crash. Appearing with Howard in Crash was Ludicrous, who also has a big role in Hustle and Flow - hey, some rappers are very good actors, it turns out. Howard, aided by a crisp script from Craig Brewer, who also directed, never portrays DJay as simply a nice guy with some flaws, someone who's been handed a bad hand and is making the best of it. It's clear that DJay's made all of his own choices, and the situation he finds himself in - depending on hookers for his livelihood - is of his own doing.

But neither does the script show DJay as being entirely bad, either, as evidenced by some surprisingly tender, moving scenes between DJay and Key (Anderson) and DJay and Shug, his pregnant woman. These scenes don't come off as stilted or insincere, and that's thanks especially to Howard's strong performance. True, too, are the scenes in which DJay lays down a rap track in his home; you can feel the rage seeping through your television.

This movie might be a difficult sell to those who have trouble relating to the environment and atmosphere in which DJay operates. Undoubtedly those who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks will recognize aspects of their own lives, identifying strongly with one or more of the characters. But even those of us who have never lived in squalor, who've generally had advantages that others do not, can appreciate the intense, gray world in which DJay and his associates live. Had this been a simple, typical biography of a musician from the mean streets, it wouldn't have had near the effectiveness, the passion of Hustle and Flow. The movie intrigues you, makes you want to know what happens to DJay, even when it's obvious he's a bit of a jerk. But because he's not a stupid man, his actions cannot be painted as simply good or simply bad. Howard, in particular, is well deserving of his critical accolades here.
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Saw it at the Los Angeles Film festival as well....
blakndn19 June 2005
...and I enjoyed it. What saves the film from being just another badly made 'hood flick, is Terrence Howard. I am so glad Craig cast an actor and not a rapper to play the lead. Terrence brings depth of character, pathos, and sympathy to a low brow pimp with low quality product to hustle.

This movie could've turned out bad with clichéd acting and over the top performances (there were moments where I felt his strip club whore was too much), but what makes you stick with the story, is that you really feel sorry for these people and you want them to succeed. The producer Stephanie Allain was at the L.A. premiere, and said that the character wanting to have a dream of better things was the universal theme that struck her. Craig (the director) also said that the story used bits and pieces of his own life and people he has met in Memphis to craft a story that really does happen to a lot of black people trying to get into the rap game. True, the hook of the story, a pimp wanting to be a rapper, sounds really funny. Lord knows if Mike Epps or Brian Hooks (or God forbid, Snoop) had been cast in the lead, this movie would've turned booty real quick. But once again, Terrence Howard makes this story come alive. I enjoy rap, but don't find crunk and a lot of lyrics enjoyable, but I must admit, in the context of the world it comes from and the hopes that these characters have, I was one of many people (the black ones in particular) who found myself swaying and singing the lyrics to "Whoop that Trick" et al.

As for the person on this board who commented that he too was at the Los Angeles Film Festival and found the white characters "acting black" tiresome, it must be said that in the south, black speech patterns and culture get picked up by whites. Living in close proximity creates that, and I didn't feel that the white characters were playing black. There was one comment in the movie where DJ Qualls arrives and Terrenc Howards character pulls Anthony Anderson aside and and questions the white boy's skills as a beat junkie, but that was the only time his color was brought up. But it was natural, no different than guys from Metallica questioning the skills of a black dude auditioning for a guitar gig. The subtext was simply "Does this dude even listen to crunk music?" Once his skills are proved, there is no question of race anymore.

The film should do well. I will see it again with my mother. Yes my mother. She loves Terrence Howard as much as I do, and I feel the movie should have a wide audience, young and old (with parental supervision). I enjoy watching Terrence Howard work, he makes you feel everything he feels on screen, and if this thing doesn't make him blow up, I don't know what will. He is the movie. See it for yourself and decide for yourself. Cuz it's hard out here for a pimp, ya'all.

Ps. For those feminists who get their panties all twisted because of any images of female exploitation, I must comment that all the women in this film (as broke down and trashy as they are) have dreams too, and Terrence's character realizes that they deserve better and strives to help them by helping himself. There is no such thing as a good pimp (like there is no such thing as a good slave master) but what redeems Terrence is that his pimp transforms his life and all those around him for the better.
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Excellent directorial effort
bkenber12 July 2005
"Hustle & Flow" is a very strong directorial from writer/director Craig Brewer, and it is very worthy of the buzz that it has been generating for the last couple of months. I got to see it last night at an AFI screening at Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles, and the audience really reacted positively to what they saw. The story is similar in some respects to "8 Mile," but it is a far better movie (and "8 Mile" was pretty good too). It features a tremendous performance by Terrence Howard as a low level pimp who suddenly breaks out of his dark surroundings to become a respected rapper. Craig had commented that had he made this movie within the studio system, he probably never would have been able to cast Terrence in the movie, and that would have been tragic. Anthony Anderson is also excellent as his friend/producer, and there is also Taryn Manning who is very strong in a role as a prostitute who wants to do more with her life. It's a movie with a lot of heart and integrity, and will appeal to anyone who has ever aspired to something with all their heart, regardless of the road blocks ahead. Here's hoping that "Hustle & Flow" gets the audience it truly deserves!
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most fun I've ever had in a theatre
brianhavelka23 July 2005
I just saw this flick to a packet house in NYC and the entire audience, myself included was with every frame of this film. Every single beat hits exactly where it is supposed to. Every review I read talks about the music and the acting, but how about how genuinely funny this film is a way that few are?

They took the material seriously rather than letting it devolve into schmaltz or comedy. The direction is straight on, no BS, no showy shots. They take their time with each scene.

Good story, perfect characters well realized. Witty, crackling dialogue. You can't make this stuff up. And comparing this to 8 mile is like comparing dogshit to gold.

A deeply flawed protagonist who is able to reach into himself and transform himself through the power of art, larger themes involve the disillusion with fame, consumer culture.

This is everything a film is supposed to be. If it makes you feel good to knock this film, then you are a snob. If you think can make a better movie than this, then go ahead!

People who love movies love this film. This is what film is about.
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A fresh take on music movies
MrChi30 November 2005
Movies and music, that's the winning combo when it comes to industry amalgams but haven't we seen it all? We have the good; The Bodyguard and 8 Mile, the bad Honey and the downright ugly aka Glitter (put the crossbow down, I had to mention it). However, this John Singleton produced flick snipes at the genre from a different angle.

The increasingly talented Terence Howard (recently seen in Ray and Crash), plays DJay, a pimp turned rapper who wants to prove his worth and swap his tricks for a trade in America's crunked up south.

Newcomer Craig Brewer takes the helm as we visit Memphis and see it through the eyes of the down but not outters consisting of DJay and his working girls. When he reunites with school friend Key (Anthony Anderson) they decide to take charge of their lives and realise their dream by putting together a demo tape of their skills, with the hope of hitting the big time.

This is not a bad movie, in fact Howard is equally as convincing as a pimp with a newly found heart and as a rapper, something that was both a bold and a fruitful choice. If the star hadn't convinced on any level it is a sure-fire guess to say a non-rapper would never be allowed to rap in a movie, but he did and he did it well.

The standard underdog making it to the big time route has been bypassed and replaced with a story that hold's your attention and has an unpredictable and real conclusion.

Amongst Flow's supporting cast, Isaac Hayes takes stage as the bar-owner who puts DJay in touch with the hometown's former star- Skinny Black, played sneeringly by Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges. As well as these two familiar songsters, Anthony Anderson and DJ Qualls, of Road Trip fame, make up the group and put in solid performances. The female cast who constitute DJay's trade are Eminem's ex-girlfriend in 8 Mile, Taryn Manning and Paula Jai Parker as the outspoken Lexus, again all providing non-sterling but convincing turns as part of the phat pack.

But it is Taraji P. Henson's part as the heavily pregnant Nola who catches the eye as a sweet and naïve part of the outfit. It is her who seems to be the only person that allows DJay to relinquish his sometimes brutal pimp suit and put on something more responsible and caring as he ventures out hustling for his right to fame.

This is not your standard cheer at the screen rise-to-fame story that Americans seem to love, too much. What it is, is a well thought out project that takes you on a journey of trials and tribulations that are the all more convincing when performances by Howard, Manning and Henson garnish the story.
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RinoBortone9112 February 2020
Hustle & Flow is a one of a kind movie about dreams and specifically about music related dreams. Is catchy, harsh, amazing, exhilarating and touching. Terrific performance by Terrence Howard that gives a lot of soul to the story; a convinced cast with an amazing direction that create something to be, undeniably, a cult of the genre. One of a kind.
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close to real life
winner5523 September 2005
A very good film. I have noted criticism that the film slips into formula in its second half; true. But the situation is so bleak for these characters, I doubt that American audiences would have accepted a more believable ending; and, after all, there were far worse "happy" endings that it avoids.

The gritty staging, the solid no-frills camera-work and editing, and some really excellent performances make this well worth the effort to confront dishonest characters struggling to find some sort of integrity in their efforts to survive and succeed. These characters are not likable - none of them are, they each have a tic that denies them total sympathy from the audience. But they are all very human for that, and so ultimately win our respect if not approval.

Among the actors, two performances especially shine. Terrence Howard as DJay shows timing and expression worthy of much older, more "schooled" actors. Anthony Anderson is a real and pleasant surprise; stuck in character roles for the past decade, Anderson has become a real annoyance to me, as the usual character he plays is really excessive, a caricature. In this role, he is allowed to just act, and he delivers a wholly believable multifaceted performance.

Hollywood has been producing such bad films that saying this film is among the best released this year may not be saying much (there are real and undeniable weaknesses to the film). Nonetheless, on the whole, the film is a commendable and rewarding effort to present a drama involving human beings living close to real life, and not cartoons. I credit that effort, and recommend a viewing.
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The subject matter and lyrics are a little rough, but the movie is a good one to see
the-movie-guy7 July 2005
(Synopsis) DJay (Terrence Howard) is a streetwise hustler and Memphis pimp with a stable of 3 girls, Shug (Taraji Henson) who is pregnant and not working, Lexus (Paula Jai Parker) who works in a strip club, and Nola (Taryn Manning) who works out of DJay's old beat-up car in a back alley. Even with two girls working and DJay selling dirt-weed on the side, it is hard for them to make ends meet. The utility company is about to shut off their utilities, if they don't pay the bill. DJay feels that he has hit rock bottom, and he needs a change in his life. A bum trades him a Casio keyboard for some weed, and DJay takes it home. While playing the keys, DJay gets an inspiration to write rap music. He begins to write down his pimping style raps, his flow, in a little notebook while Nola is turning tricks. DJay runs into Key (Anthony Anderson), an old friend and sound engineer, who takes him to a church choir performance that reaches DJay's soul. DJay looks inside his soul and decides to get out of the business, and now he has a dream of becoming a rapper. DJay teams up with Key to make a demo song. Skinny Black (Ludacris) is a platinum selling rapper about to return to Memphis for the 4th of July. DJay believes he can hustle Skinny to hear his tape, and his dream will come true.

(Comment) The movie was filmed all around Memphis during 2004. Memphian Craig Brewer wrote and directed 'Hustle and Flow,' and I went to the red carpet movie premiere in Memphis on 6 July. Craig Brewer told the audience about his father's watch that was used in the movie, and he was wearing it for good luck that night. He was also wearing a 3-carat diamond ring that belonged to Sam Phillips. As for the movie, Terrence Howard's role as DJay is a remarkable one in that he becomes immersed in the character of DJay. Howard comes off as a real pimp with all the anger, conflicts, and frustrations, which he encounters in life. There is no such thing as a good pimp, but the character of DJay realizes that his women have dreams too, and that he wants to change everything around him and them for the better. The subject matter and the lyrics to the rap music are a little rough, but the movie is a good one to see. (Paramount Classics, Run time 1:54, Rated R) (8/10)
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Pleasantly Surprised
George200326 June 2005
I recently had the pleasure of viewing a local Hustle & Flow screening. I referred to this site beforehand to look at the technical details of the movie and to gain a general understanding of the buzz from the message boards. All I seem to recall reading were negative comments about the movie saying that it was such a cliché. Well, maybe I haven't seen as many movies in the hip hop coming of age genre, but the only movie I recall being remotely close to this one was 8 Mile (which I liked btw). Anyways, I saw the movie and I really don't think it was that cliché. The dialog is definitely original, the characters are original, the location is original, and there is a lot of depth within the character of DJay, the pimp trying to become a rapper. I thought the acting in the movie was excellent and I am glad that there is a wide release movie out this summer that isn't a sequel and didn't cost $200 million to make. This movie is bound to do very well, it only cost $3 million to make and it is a pretty good movie. The only problems I had with this movie were with some of the logic and character motivation. I don't think the movie explained very well WHY DJay (the pimp) wanted to become a rapper all of a sudden. They make the entire music making process seem like a piece of cake, but hey it is a movie and there are ultimately time constraints. I thought DJ Qualls was gonna be just a really lame piece of comic relief, but he actually adds depth to the film. I found Hustle & Flow to be very enjoyable and much more memorable than Batman Begins (which I saw last night!). This movie is definitely worth seeing this summer.
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A combination of strong acting, realistic direction, nice music and real emotions
christian12328 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
D-Jay (Terrence Howard) is a pimp from Memphis trying to do more with his life. When he learns that a hugely successful rapper, played by Ludicrous, is returning home to Memphis, he plans to become a rapper himself, writing songs about life as a pimp in hopes of being discovered.

Hustle and Flow is an inspiring, engaging and intense film of becoming something. The majority of the film is realistic with relatable characters and situations. It shows the many struggles of life and it proves that hard work does pay off. The beginning of the film was a little tough to watch because of the living style of the main characters. It was a little scary to see what some people have to do just to get by. I think director Craig Brewer did a fine job at portraying these situations without making them seem too cheesy or over the top. The second half of the film focused on D-Jay and his struggles to find his right music. The music is surprisingly good and meaningful. I say "surprisingly" because rap doesn't really interest me but the film actually made it tolerable.

The lyrics don't hold back and they may be offensive to some. I thought they were okay and they had more to do about life rather than the usual stuff you hear in rap songs. My favorite scenes were the ones that took place in the recording room. As cheesy as this may sound, they were more inspirational and engaging. It showed different types of people working together and coming up with some nice material. The final act features D-Jay meeting with Skinny Black and hoping his songs get picked up by him. The conversation between Skinny and D-Jay was pretty good but it was also a little depressing. It's sad to have someone lie right to your face about how good you are and then find your music in the toilet. It just shows how tough the real world is and it makes D-Jay tougher for not giving up. The ending wasn't as strong as everything else. It was a little cheesy and unrealistic. However in some ways, it was nice to see a sort of happy ending.

The acting is terrific and everyone gives a good performance. Terrence Howard plays D-Jay and he gives a very engaging performance. His character isn't very likable but it was easy to root for him. His performance was just that good. Taryn Manning is just as good as Terrence and she also deserved an Oscar nomination. I can't believe this is the same girl from Crossroads considering her performance is really strong. I don't really like Anthony Anderson but even he gave a good performance and it was easily his best performance ever. Taraji P. Henson and DJ Qualls are also just as good as the other actors. Personally, I think Ludicrous gave a better performance in this film than in Crash.

While the film is pretty good, it's not for everyone. Most of the characters are unlikable due to their lifestyles and attitudes. Some people may find it hard to care about these characters if they think so low about them. Also, the women in this movie are mistreated and some people may be disgusted by this. The story is also unoriginal and it there were a few clichés. Personally, I thought that the acting and the direction were strong enough to overcomes these weaknesses. In the end, Hustle and Flow is a difficult film to watch at times but it's still a strong film that's worth checking out. Rating 9/10
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Best Rap Movie Ever, and Then Some!
sundevil2726 January 2005
I just got back from seeing this at the 2005 Sundance film festival and must say this was a fantastic movie. It should easily be the best movie to come out of the festival, and best I have had the opportunity to see there in my half dozen years of going (Its lucky to get tickets to anything these days, let alone something great). Right off I have to say the cast was absolutely amazing, several break out performances for sure,I really liked Taryn Manning (what a beauty) and Taraji P. Henson was simply emotional to watch. Then Terrence Howard, this guy has been doing some supporting roles and been rather likable, but this is totally something else, he lights the screen on fire. You could say he's the next "it" black actor, but really black,white,yellow,magenta whatever this guy drops it like its hot here, this performance will make you keep an eye out for his next movie on the IMDb. As for the story, well its about a hard livin pimp from Memphis wanting to accomplish a dream of becoming a rapper and getting his songs heard. The plot isn't that complicated which in this case is just fine because the greatness is in the details of the characters. I felt like you really became more attached to each character along the way, thus making for a much anticipated ending. The ending, I wont give it away but it is doesn't sell out and at the same time is very satisfying. If you are a fan of rap music, hip hop,crunk whatever you will very much enjoy this movie and the music is very well done. However I will also throw this out there, my 50 year old mother who thinks rap music is foul and has zero interest in gritty subject matter (ie, Pimpin) saw this movie at Sundance and thought based on the acting alone it was the best movie she had seen. Whup dat Trick!
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Sundance Audience Winner
edzimmerman31 January 2005
Just got back from Sundance Film Festival today, and I was fortunate enough to snag tickets for this awesome movie, as it was the Sundance Audience Award Winner for best dramatic picture. This movie is just AWESOME. From the hot rap tracks that are catchy as ever, to an inspiring and great performances from everyone aboard, this movie was a real pleasure. Terrance Howard as DJay is one of the greatest protagaonists I've seen on screen all year long. Look out for these future music tracks "Whoop That Trick" and "It's Hard for a Pimp." Music had me bobbin my head. MUST SEE MOVIE. Awesome that MTV Films has picked up this brilliant feature flick
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It's Hard Out Here for a Child Molester Too...
everybody_is_a_critic29 March 2006
Wow, did I ever detest this movie. I shut it off after an hour and can't find anything good to say about it.

Now we're glorifying pimps… It's incredibly offensive to me that the song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" won an academy award. (worst of all, I can't get the stupid hook out of my head). We're supposed to feel bad for how hard this guy's life is? I could feel bad for him if he was the one having to sell his body day after day – but I really can't get much sympathy going for a pimp. How about, "It's hard out here for a child molester." Does that grab you?

It's hard enough out 'here' for a law-abiding, gainfully employed black man – how about showing THAT in the movies. Instead of the same representation black men get over and over – pimps, drug dealers, addicts (or the 'success' stories: rappers and athletes).

Even though the movie doesn't show him beating on his 'employees,' you know that he must – the women are clearly scared of him and his first song is entitled, 'Whoop that Trick' (toned down from his original title, 'Beat that Bitch'). And no, I don't believe he's referring to beating up a customer (which is not really too common). Some statistics: "80% of prostitutes are sexually assaulted by pimps via sadistic sex; 71% of pimps use drugs to control the women; and 34% of the women received death threats from pimps personally or to their family." - from "Sex Trafficking In the United States, Coalition Against Trafficking of Women Study," Raymond, Hughes, Gomez (3/01)

The women are all incredibly superficial characters (the weepy, weak-willed caregiver; the dumb but docile white girl; and the bitch).

And Djay's dream of being a rapper. I'm sorry - just because he has something he needs to 'spit out' doesn't mean it's something worth listening to.
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everyone has a dream
extclipslee24 July 2005
Have you ever woke up one morning feeling tired and burnt out? Then something dramatic happens in your life and you see the world differently. "Wow!" That is exactly the moral being told here. There is humor, sadness and anger in this film. I cried three times, and yelled at the screen twice. I haven't felt this moved in a movie since Tom Hanks lost Wilson, the soccer ball, in The Castaway.

Everyone has to go see this movie regardless of race, age, (18yrs) or gender. I give this movie the highest rating for a director and performer.

Thank You, Staci Schacht
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Black on Black Hate
uptownbill25 July 2005
Hustle and Flow must be the favorite movie of The Klan, David Duke, and Clarence Thomas. Not since Birth of a Nation has there been a worst depiction of African American people. Every character in the movie is completely self loathing and full of misogynistic thoughts and actions. Terrance Howard plays a failure of a pimp who mistreats his prostitutes and throws one of them on the porch in the middle of the night along with her crying baby in his walker.

This movie depicts that there is no craft to making rap music and that it is the theme music of the slime of society. Every song is about drugs, violence, bitches and hoes.

He later beats up a drugged rapper and shots his way out of the situation. He goes off to jail but not before he convinces his white prostitute that she is in charge. What a movie hero.

John Singleton is the new D.W. Griffith perpetuating destructive black stereotypes. What did we do to you John? Who hurt you? Hustle and Flow should be called Black on Black hate. The hustle is the marketing to hip hop audiences; the flow is the cash flow the studio will make.
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I loved it.
omarellis20 June 2005
I went to a screening of this film a little while ago and couldn't help but let people know about it afterward. Terrence Howard is great, accent is totally on point and really gets his emotions across well throughout. He's one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood today. As for the story, it was so real, and put together well. You would expect a film like this to be almost cliché, almost blaxploitation-like but it's really unlike anything that's come along in a while. The film however is not without faults. Ludicrous basically plays himself and it might have been great to get more background on DJay throughout the film. But even so, I'd recommend Hustle & Flow to anyone.
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Hustle and Flow will have you hustling to a theater
JBene19 February 2005
At first glance Hustle and Flow may appear to be a goofy film about the hard- knock life of a pimp trying to break into the rap world, but after viewing the film at Sundance it is clear that this dramatic film stands heads and shoulders above its peers. TERRENCE DASHON HOWARD has a break-out performance as DJay, the pimp with bigger dreams of becoming a rap star. TARYN MANNING and TARAJI P. HENSON share the screen wonderfully with HOWARD as his "supporting ladies". ANTHONY ANDERSON and DJ QUALLS complete this rat pack as the men behind the music. As the film unfolded, I found myself invested in the characters fears, hopes, and dreams. They are stuck in a world of prostitution and drugs, and everyone's hopes to break out of that cyclical world are resting on DJay's shoulders. I enjoyed watching the characters develop and learning more about their inner wishes as the plot progressed. They may be rough around the edges, but they know how to work what they have. Also the music in the film should be credited as a supporting role. A great soundtrack will be coming out of Hustle and Flow. The film avoids a cliché ending, yet it still satisfies the viewers needs.
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The emperor is naked, people!
arrbee5513 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
After reading through the comments, it looks like at least a couple of people saw the same movie I did. Hustle & Flow - this movie is a hustle and more of us should follow our instincts to flow out of the theater in the first minutes of the film - No, It doesn't get any better the longer you stay. . . misogyny, stereotypes, sexism, patron-ism, Hustle & Flow has it all. Yevette finally "sees the light", abandons her middle-class existence and joins the crew at the house full of ho's. Nola don't mind DJay messin with her head cause sometimes it needs messin with. DJay, the sympathetic reformed pimp throws one of his girls, and an infant, out on the street - wow, my kind of hero. I'm not sure what audience this "black movie" is intended to reach, but I am definitely on a crusade to minimize the number of people who waste too much time and too much money watching this, yet another in a long line of movies that denigrate Blacks and women.
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Oh my, oh my. ...
kakudmi-330 July 2006
People, let me tell you something, and please read this through so you don't get the wrong impression here: I'm not a big fan of movies containing similar plots that involve mostly "black" culture, Ebonics, pimps and the kind of materialism they promote. And that's partly because I've seen a number of them. So, first time a friend of mine told me he had "Hustle & Flow" on a DVD, I said "Nah, thanks." But then after about 4 months, for some reason I went to check the reviews for this title and decided to take a chance. I rented it and then ripped it to my hard drive, for those evenings when you have nothing better to watch. Then one day, I helped this guy with his motorcycle and he wanted to pay me for that. I refused to accept money from him but instead he tucked about 1g of pot I'm my pocket. I's been a while since I've taken any and I though, hey, let me refresh my memory.

So there I am, stoned like an Indian cow, in front of my 24" widescreen LCD, starting this DVD with the following mindset: "If it's not entertaining in the first 10 minutes I'm zeroing this movie for good".

And the the very first scene, where he reveals his riped mind to this ho' who couldn't compose one simple, meaningful sentence as a reply to his 5-6 minutes dissertation, blew my fckng mind to pieces. I couldn't stop watching, my eyeballs where drying up, I didn't want to blink. The whole movie flows with such characters, each is worth studying. But most of them develop throughout certain time period, while DJay was already developed, fully bloomed. So here we are, watching this knightly character who knew what he wanted so much more than the others that he simply hanglides through them throughout the whole movie.

You must see this movie stoned cause I cannot guarantee what would I say if I wasn't. So take no chances, get some weed from your neighbors teen and rent this mottafuka at once. And make sure you watch it with someone who has the similar mindset like you or just be alone.

Let me know what you think.
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Great performance in the lead but the material isn't all that it needs to be and slips away totally at the end (minor spoilers)
bob the moo21 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
DJay is a smalltime pimp, selling his one or two worn girls out of his battered Cadillac or seedy strip-joints. However time has worn his enthusiasm for the game and he longs for more. Meeting up with an old classmate who has recording experience, DJay sees the opportunity to take his experience and use it to make his dreams come true through hip-hop. His aspirations cannot get him away from the reality of his situation but the impending visit of local rapper-made-good Skinny Black could be the break he needs.

It is not possible to talk about this film without focusing on the person that really puts it all on his back and carries it from start to finish – Terrence Howard. Never someone who has impressed me, Howard did well in a small role in Crash and has improved again to produce a convincing central performance here. DJay could have been a big cliché played by a rapper that deeply enjoys the credibility of the pimp role but in Howard's hands the role is much closer to being a real person. He doesn't enjoy the pimp life so much as convincingly mire himself in it – his eyes are filled with an anger and pain that say more about the person than a thousand Jay-Z songs ever will. His character is key to the film and it is Howard that makes this part work.

The rest of the film is more or less worthy of him but loses its way right at the end. For the majority we are allowed to act as witnesses without sides in his story – we aren't pushed to see him as a good man or a bad man, nor to allow the fact he might be "good deep down" to excuse his violent exploitation of women. It is a fine line but the film balances it well. This success helps to make the plot more interesting considering that it is only ever a note away from being just one big "making it out the hood" movie. The scenes of hip-hop hope are a bit cheesy but they are well balanced out by the sleazy and unglamorous reality of the lifestyle. It could have been deeper and more about the characters but it is still interesting enough to do well – up to a point.

Unfortunately this point is about 20 minutes before the end of the film when suddenly Brewer abandons his approach and falls back on cliché, easy options and, worst of all, an optimistic ending that sees him holding DJay up in a way that he had mostly manage to avoid doing. The whole end flies in the face of what had gone before and throws off the balancing act it had done up till that point. It is a shame because it should have been more downbeat and interesting but instead it takes the line of least resistance. It may have been Brewer but, in his defence, it does smell slightly like the work of a studio executive or an American test audience. It still just about works although not even Howard can cover the disappointing in the final act.

The rest of the cast do well to help him. Usually Anderson is enough to make me avoid a film but, as with the most recent series of The Shield, he shows that he can act and has a solid serious side. He is good and surprisingly unshowy support for Howard. Manning is good as Nola but again the end of the film sees her betrayed and asked to be something she is not. The vulnerable and pregnant Shug is really well delivered by Henson; her character may be simple on paper but she does well to be really quite touching and sympathetic. Parker has a black cliché in her finger-clicking, swearing performance but she is good enough to do the job without dragging the rest down a notch. Ludicrous (who also impressed me in Crash) is pretty close to his rapping personae in an easy role but he deserves credit for taking a beating on screen and being convincing in his one role. Hayes is a bit distracting in such a small role but again is a nice addition.

Overall this is a pretty good film that pulls off the balancing act and avoids judgement for the majority, helped in no small way by a very strong turn from Howard. However at the end it undoes all this god work with an ending that is so easy and pat that I genuinely doubted it had been delivered by the same person who had written and directed the first two-thirds. Close to cliché and corn at times but it mostly mixes them well and the film is worth seeing.
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Musicians (and those wanting positive black characters) will hate this
goof_samaritan31 December 2005
I know Hustle & Flow was highly regarded and that I'm alone in my viewpoint, but as a musician I couldn't stand it. The best music in the movie is the Gospel music that supposedly inspires the protagonist "pimp with a heart of gold." Being inspired to be a rapper after hearing gospel music is like being inspired by basketball to take up bowling. What's the connection? Anyhow, it's all downhill after that.

For example, in the scene where the white dude teaches a woman the "hook," it's clear the director is not a musician because every time there was an edit the key of the tune changed. The "hook" itself was not a good one, neither catchy nor interesting: "You know it's hard out here for a pimp/When you're trying to get the money for the rent/With the Cadillac and gas money spent/We'll have a whole lot of bitches jumping ship." Okay, there's a chiasmus in the rhyme scheme (ABBA symmetry) which is quite sophisticated for rap. But the "woe is me, I'm a pimp" sentiment is laughable.

We then have every cliché in the book to show how hard he struggles. The only thing missing is a drunk mother like in 8 MILE. It ends with him having a hit single after getting into a gunfight and doing time, so I guess the moral of the story is "anyone without talent can succeed in rap if you are violent enough." Sadly, this is probably true.

Although I am completely against censorship, I found myself agreeing somewhat with those who felt films like this one, Get Rich or Die Trying' , etc. are a bad influence on everyone, particularly black youths. The fact is people are impressionable. If they weren't, advertisers wouldn't be spending millions to persuade us. So gang violence doesn't happen just because they saw a particular movie, but certainly these movies glorify and validate a lifestyle that gang members will then emulate. Sometimes life really does imitate art.

And as someone who has argued against the negative portrayal minorities in the media, I find it much harder to defend blacks since their negative portrayals are now being perpetrated by black filmmakers themselves. But you can't have it both ways: either the black community is badly served by these movies since blacks are really just good people like everyone else; or these films are truthful, blacks are to be feared and therefore the police are justified in racial profiling. What's is going to be? I sure hope it's the former.

Where's Spike Lee when you need him? He is the lone voice in the wilderness pointing out that rappers and gangstas are nothing more than minstrel acts -- gross caricatures of an entire community. People who think this is reality are selling themselves short.

To paraphrase Public Enemy (when rap actually had something to say), "50 Cent is a hero to most/But he never meant sh*t to me."
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Whoop That Trick GET EM Whoop That Trick GET EM......
conman7896 February 2005
This little gem was one of the few surprises of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and was certainly the best film in American Dramatic Competition (along with "Brick" and "Thumbsucker").

Yes, the plot is riddled with clichés - but the film manages to transcend these shortcomings due to the slick camera-work of cinematographer Amy Vincent (who won the cinematography award at Sundance), the powerful and poignant performances by Terrence Dashon Howard in the title role (Djay), Taraji P. Henson (Shug), and, of all people, Anthony Anderson (Key).

The film follows a down-and-out Memphis pimp/hustler named Djay (Howard), who, along with his "primary investor" ho Nola (Taryn Manning), run tricks out of his beat-up Caddie in a back alley.

Djay is then swept up in the crunk-rap game, with the emerging success of hometown Memphis product Skinny Black (Ludacris). Djay was once a DJ/freestyle MC during his formative years, and, in his opinion, was on a par with Skinny. So Djay, frustrated by life as a pimp/hustler/dirt-weed dealer, decides to break into the rap game. He's aided by an old friend Key (Anderson), who's still kept his rap-dream alive by recording gospel music at the local church, and his sidekick Shelby (DJ Qualls), who's got some ill crunk beats.

Djay's pregnant "first lady" Shug (Henson) provides the hook to their second single ("You know it's hard out here for a pimp / when you trying to get the money for the rent / all the Cadillac and gas money spent / will have a whole lot of b*tches jumpin ship"), as well as some much-needed tenderness that helps ground Djay's rough, pimp-slappin character.

This film won the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and rightfully so - it's very engaging and a lot of fun. Even when the sparks fly in the 3rd Act, and filmmaker Craig Brewer throws a left-hook featuring delicate material, the film is redeemed by its close.

I enjoyed this film much more than Curtis Hanson's "8 Mile", and must thus crown "Hustle and Flow" as the greatest rap film ever made.

(The title of this post is a reference to Djay's first, catchy single)
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