Liz: 4 out of 5 stars …… but also 1 out of 5 stars

Hello hello, I was supposed to write reviews for What We Do In the Shadows and Annie Hall all before this movie, but I have a lot to say for this one so I want to write my review for Straight Outta Compton (2015) first. Directed by F. Gary Gray (who also directed Friday, The Italian Job, and Law- Abiding Citizen — all great movies, go watch all three RIGHT NOW if you haven’t haha), this movie is a biographical drama starring O’Shea Jackson, Jr. (who looks EXACTLY like his father, whom he portrays in this movie… aww so cute), Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Paul Giamatti, and others.

Quick Liz summary: This film is about the growth/development of the hip-hop group from Compton, California, N.W.A, its individual members, and their relationships with each other.

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**quick trigger warning for domestic abuse/ violence against women*

So I decided to give Straight Outta Compton two separate star reviews because on one hand, I really enjoyed the movie, but on the other hand, I’m very critical of it for several reasons. I’m super indecisive too and I can’t possibly combine all the different feelings I had and arrive at an appropriate star rating. I’ll begin with my decision to give it 1 out of 5 stars.

Prior to this film’s release, I had seen a couple articles going around about the controversy surrounding the casting call for female extras for this film. See here for the actual wording of the casting call. To summarize for you, the agency used an A to D group scale and each individual group had different expectations for appearance for the women. The “A” girls should be “the hottest of the hot… great bodies.. very classy looking.” The “B” girls — “These are fine girls… small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned…” For “C” girls, they specifically say that these should be African American girls, whereas for “A” girls, they say that they could be black, white, asian, hispanic, etc. And finally “D” girls: again African American girls, “poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin type.” YIKES. Seeing this horrified me for sooooo many reasons. It’s so clearly colorist and racist and sexist, amongst other things, and just another example of how Hollywood continues to enforce certain looks and stereotypes, particularly for those of female bodies. To go off that, in the movie, the women seemed to just be there for the male gaze, usually half to fully naked throughout. And seeing them just reminds me of the casting call above.

My biggest problem with this movie. It’s a biographical drama and goes into the background history of the group, N.W.A., but also goes into each of the members’ individual lives– particularly Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube. Let me say that I’m not very knowledgable about any of these men; I never listened to N.W.A. or any other rap that much growing up (though knowing Omar has definitely turned that around in the last 6 years or so). Omar is super up to date on all of that though so definitely check out his review when that comes out. He’s told me a lot about them musically, but what I’m interested in the most is personal lives, and wow lol Straight Outta Compton conveniently left out Dr. Dre’s history of violence against women, as well as Eazy-E. I won’t go too much further into that here, but I’m critical of the movie for leaving this out and though Dr. Dre is undoubtedly a musical genius, it hurts to know that he, along with other celebrities, can get away with a history like that.


ALRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT, so now that I’m done with being very critical of the movie, I’m ready to talk about why I also gave this movie 4 out of 5 stars.

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First of all- acting. It was an all-around phenomenal cast, but the shining star for me was Jason Mitchell, who plays Eazy-E. Throughout the movie, I felt that his performance was the most natural; he really fit into the role so well and played it perfectly for me. I’m sorry if this is a spoiler for anyone lol, but Eazy-E passed away on March 26, 1995 from complications from AIDS. (I’m gonna insert here that unprotected sex is dangerous!!!! Make sure y’all get tested and use appropriate protection and all that. Be safe!) Mitchell’s performance at the end of the movie as he portrayed Eazy-E at the end of his life was absolutely heart-breaking for me- I cried multiple times. I really think he deserves awards attention for this, because it blew me away. Apart from that, he was just able to show anger, kindness, love, and so many other human emotions all at once and it was great. What’s more impressive is that he hasn’t been in too many other movies/ roles before, so I’d love to see him in more projects in the future. None of the other performances hit me on such a high level like Mitchell, but I do want to say that no one else could have played Ice Cube other than his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. They look so eerily alike, and Jackson Jr, just had all his mannerisms down perfectly as well. It’s also not just that they look alike but his son really acted great in general.

There were also several hilarious moments, particularly when Eazy-E is rapping for the first time and Dr. Dre and Ice Cube can’t handle how.. not great it was. There’s also another scene where Ice Cube pushes a (topless) girl named Felicia out into the hallway and locks her out, saying “Bye, Felicia.” That was pretty funny at the moment, but I’ll pause here to be critical once again, because this scene was making fun out of a woman’s humiliation and that’s not funny at all.

I don’t have much to say for cinematography here because I wasn’t paying attention to that too much but I do want to mention that the scene where N.W.A. is performing in Detroit had great camerawork of the group on stage.

Finally, as I mentioned above, I’m not very knowledgeable on the history of rap, prominent groups, etc. Despite my problems with how the movie left out some huge biographical information, I thought that it did a good job of tying together the lives of Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre in that it all seemed to flow together easily. The movie did a great job of showing how music/ rap contributes in huge ways to the raising of social awareness, particularly on police brutality, discrimination against black people, and life in Compton for them.

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