NPR logo Friday Movies: 'Idlewild'

Friday Movies: 'Idlewild'

Antwan "Big Boi" Patton with a bevy of beautiful dancers in Idlewild. Universal Pictures hide caption

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Idlewild, the new movie from hip-hop duo OutKast, opens today. NPR's Bob Mondello gives us the scoop.

OutKast's new movie Idlewild gets off to such a sharp start — swooping camera, black and white photos leaping to life, notes jumping off a music stand to dance in a juke joint — that you barely notice for a while that the hip-hop stars it's all centered on are the least of it. They're not bad, they're just not actors, and for most of the movie, they're so protected by writer/director Bryan Barber that it doesn't really matter. During musical numbers, he knows they'll be right at home, and during non-musical moments, he surrounds them with old Hollywood pros like Terrence Howard, Ben Vereen, and Cicely Tyson who could probably make a scene work even if they were acting opposite cardboard cutouts. OutKast's "Andre 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton are not cardboard cutouts, of course. Benjamin's reticent composer/pianist is serviceably soulful (largely in voiceovers), and Patton's comic stage-star lives up to his character's name of Rooster (largely by strutting cock-o'-the-walk-style). The plot they're wrapped up in is as much a remix of 1930s gangster-movie conventions as the score is a remix of OutKast songs. The atmosphere is heady, the plot idiotic, and the movie a bit of a mess. But it's a lively, ambitious one, and likely to prove a crowd-pleaser.

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