This review is from the perspective of someone who was a kid in southwest Michigan when NWA became famous and a teenager in Northwest Ohio when Ice Cube was releasing his solo work and starting writing movies like ‘Friday’; and Dr. Dre was working with talent like Snoop Dogg; and when Easy E passed away from AIDS. This film brought out memories of listening to their music with friends and promptly shutting it off when parents walked into the room as well as hearing about a lot of the events of the film on the news. Watching the film, it felt like the events happened much more recently than 20-29 years ago. It could be that so many recent events have giving an ageless feel to the music of NWA and the member that went solo.
The early scenes show Dr. Dre(Corey Hawkins) and Ice Cube, (his real life son O’Shea Jackson Jr.) as young aspiring artists in Compton who vent their frustration through their art. Dre spins records at clubs and Ice Cube writes lyrics based on things than happen to him and things he observes. One night he is simply walking across the street when cops are handcuffing and searching people in his neighborhood and a cop grabs him and slams him on the car to search him. His parents protest the action and the police threaten them as they stand unarmed on their own property. Events like this inspire his lyrics. Easy E is portrayed as the businessman of the group. He puts up the funding for them to record their first record and works very closely with their manager who has less than perfect intentions. His initial studio session is pretty funny before he finds his voice. The film does contain a lot of the troupes of the rise to fame bio pics of musicians, like a scene where they party with naked women in a hotel room and when they split over differences. Throughout the film, the three leads are portrayed as less than angels, but their anger is justified. One aspect of the film that could have been expanded on is the women in their lives. They are mostly portrayed as capable, intelligent women, but their screen time is limited, and that’s a shame. Like any bio pic, there are a few things that could have been expanded on or has a little better pay off for the set up.
‘Straight Outta Compton’ actual feels much shorter that its nearly 2 ½ hour runtime. The music and the strong performances really make the film great to watch. It’s worth a trip to the theater to see this weekend and will be worth a DVD/Blu ray purchase in a few months. The film opened to successful early screenings Thursday evening (August 13) and is playing at all mainstream theaters in the Miami Valley this weekend.