Willowdean ('Dumplin'), the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, signs up for her mom's Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.
Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost.
From early on in "Patti Cake$," it seems evident that director Geremy Jasper's energetic style and tone to this story of a woman from 'dirty Jersey' trying to make it big in the rap scene will likely make this independent film appealing to mainstream audiences as well. First of all, the film's music is excellent. It is well-written, authentic and filled to the bone with genuine passion. If you're a rap fan, this would make the film most certainly worth the price of admission alone. The film has some notable performances as well, with Danielle Macdonald's role as Patti particularly note-worthy. The depiction of New Jersey is gritty and realistic, while still keeping a sense of dry humor when necessary, and the characters--while offbeat--are generally developed nicely.
However, the film is not without flaws. The main reason why this is the case is because of the film's rather generic script. While the script feels a bit bundled in parts and seems to work a little overtime to make the movie feel like a 'crowd-pleaser,' that's not the main problem with it. The real concern here is that the film contains a number of clichés that have been done many times before in films about performing arts. This makes the movie feel very slightly tedious and containing a bit of narrative 'filler' due to the presence of these tried-and-true events. As a result, it could have been about 10 or 15 minutes shorter without really losing anything.
While the movie is enjoyable and amusing throughout, it really rises to the occasion during the scenes Patti is rapping. In those scenes, the energy is truly both electric and infectious. Due to this (and the film's characters and accessibility,) this could also be an independent film that breaks out and finds a real audience in wide release, much like "The Big Sick" did earlier this summer--although unlike "The Big Sick," people will also run to iTunes when they get on their computers after arriving home from the theater to download the soundtrack. Recommended. 7/10
Disclaimer: I have not yet seen "The Big Sick," although I do plan on watching it on Redbox, and am not attempting to compare this film to that one in terms of quality. I was only using it as a comparison on the nature of accessibility/mainstream appeal.
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