By Mary Cox
Patti Cake$ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, which meant it should have been a good movie; but, I started checking my watch every five minutes after this movie started hoping it would end soon. It got off to an extremely slow start and although it improved slightly in the last twenty minutes of the movie; it wasn’t enough to redeem the storyline for me.
Set in a gritty strip-mall suburbia in New Jersey “PattiCake$” is the story of an underdog’s quest for fame. An unlikely rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a, Dumbo a.k.a. Patti Cake$, finds her voice as a one-of-a-kind hip-hop legend in the making as PattiCake$, in spite of discouragement from her alcholic mother, a wannabe who never made it.
Danielle Macdonald stars as Patti Dombrowski. Bridget Everett is her mother Barb. Academy Award Nominee Cathy Moriarty is her lovable grandmother, Nana. Siddharth Dhananjay is Patti’s best friend and partner. Mamoudou Athie plays the love interest.
Bridget Everett’s singing was the highlight of the film for me. She had a beautiful voice when her character sang in the Karaoke bar where her daughter worked. Macdonald is an Australian actress who had to be taught to rap and she had to be taught the “Jersey accent.” It worked because until I looked her up online, I would have thought she was from Jersey. Moriarty had the funniest lines in the film. You fall in love with her character. Like most grandmothers, she is supportive of her granddaughter and loves her unconditionally and aides and abets whenever possible.
“PattiCake$” is the first feature film from music-video director Geremy Jasper who not only directed, he also write the screenplay. I think he wanted to spotlight the music so he wrote a movie around it. The writing leaves a lot to be desired although it did well in Sundance.
I have seen the plot of this movie a hundred times in movies about sports or other music movies: the underdog overcomes devastating odds to win in the end. It is a cliché. I do not care for Rap or Hip-Hop music so I asked several other movie goers who were young and liked Rap if they liked the movie. Most were luke-warm about the film and thought that they had several things wrong. They told me that Rap challenges never get violent but this one did and there seemed to be no reason for it. The whole scene detracted from the film.
Although there is some violence in the film it is minor but the bad language abounds. The f-bomb is in constant use.
This film is not going to make it to the Metro-East and you can be thankful for that, but if you are over in St. Louis in University City and see it listed at the Tivoli, run don’t walk away from this film. It will also appear at Weherenberg theaters throughout the St. Louis area. Save your money, the film is not worth the price of admission.