DON'T BE AFRAID.
As a white, middle-aged, gay man with only cursory knowledge of rap music, I was well-aware that I was not the target audience for this endeavor. And while I'm not saying that everyone with a taste for show-tunes and theme parks will adore Straight Outta Compton, it's much, much more accessible to the average moviegoer than you might think. There's plenty to recommend about it and I found the experience engaging and satisfying.
When I mentioned to friends that I was off to see Straight Outta Compton, I caught a glimpse in some of their eyes as if I was attempting something dangerous. Relax, it's a movie, not a hood meeting at a cellblock. You'll be fine. Well... in the right multiplex, anyway.
First of all, it's a (bit) sugar-frosted but fascinating tale about the dawn of one, if not the most, significant waves of rap artistry and the three men who represented the split of the atom for the genre. Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube come together and alter the universe of rap/hip-hop. Two of the three continue to do so today. All are portrayed superbly and the three gentlemen (Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins and O'Shea Jackson Jr. respectively) who do so represent part of the onslaught of new talent in acting to debut in this season of summer movies. Also catch Dope, Paper Towns and Me And Earl And The Dying Girl if you wanna see the next generation of A-listers. Honestly.
Now I doubt that "the boys" were quite as "gosh-howdy" or innocent as they're portrayed here, but hints of contrition are sprinkled about by the end in what is a truly touching finale.
A couple of uncomfortable caveats:
The packed house of (mostly) young people cheered and guffawed at too much of the "kick-yo-ass-cause-I'm-cool" violence, which seems contrary to the film's conscience and is conflicted as such. And secondly, double is true for the celebrated and titillating misogyny which is heartily over-the-top and most appreciated by the teenage males in the audience - I don't know.
And...it's a little baffling, the double standard of depicting stereotypes onscreen. I'm not sure how many movies could have gotten away with the "greedy jew" cartoon that is made of the trio's manager Jerry Heller, by prolific actor and toupee addict Paul Giamatti. (I have mentioned here before that Giamatti's excessive abuse and addiction to hairpieces is disquieting.) But the producers (Cube and Dre themselves) paint their side with the same brush so it goes down easier than in other contexts.
Movies are meant to expand our experience and consciousness as well as entertain so I would encourage my fellow members of the "white-bread-fringe" to go out and ingest this joyfully.
Really, you should go - BUT DON'T TAKE THE KIDS.
Loudinni specializes in reviews that can be read in under a minute sans spoilers.