Patti Cake$ review by Bobby Blakey
As someone who loves all things hip hop I instantly gravitate to any film that focuses on the subject. Most of the time they are the same old thing, but every so often something comes along that stands out as something fresh and new. The latest that really had me intrigued was Patti Cake$ starring Danielle MacDonald, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriarty, Bridget Everett, and MC Lyte with director Geremy Jasper at the helm. Could this film have the rhymes to step onto the stage or will it fail to find its rhythm?
Patti Cake$ follows aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$. Fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in Jersey where her life is falling apart, Patti tries to reach the big time in the hip hop scene with original and affecting music. Cheered on by her grandmother and only friends, Jheri and Basterd, Patti also shoulders her mother's heartaches and misfortunes. Going in to this film, like most, I thought it seemed like it was going for something similar to 8 Mile, but in reality it is so much more. There are similarities, but that is by design as the entire culture of hip hop especially the rise of someone like Eminem affected the culture in a major way. This film fits right into that form with it being more of a byproduct of the culture as opposed trying to copy it. The story here is unique in not only the unorthodox lead, but also in direction. Instead of us seeing the rise of Patti, here she is already a skilled rapper when we meet her and are taken on the journey of her trying to become the star she already considers herself to be.
The cast are all excellent with Danielle MacDonald knocking it out of the park. She offers up the perfect look for the role and brings the acting chops and rhyming skills along with her. Who knows if she had any rap abilities prior to the film she certainly has them in the film and that is all that matters. Comedic actress Bridget Everett steps out of her comfort zone to take on the role of Patti’s mom and does a great job. She brings a lot of pain and struggle to the role without it just becoming another clichéd role. Patti’s partner in crime Jheri played by Siddharth Dhananjay who is well known for his YouTube rap videos is so much fun here. He is the glue to the group and is so much fun to watch. He and MacDonald have great chemistry together making for the perfect team. Cathy Moriarty has a fun role here as Patti’s grandmother and unexpected group member that offers up plenty of laughs, encouragement and heart. Finally we Mamoudou Athie who is the most interesting character here and one I found that fit in the least in the best way possible. He is an outcast and is meant to be, but the arc of bringing them all together is magic to watch.
This is one of those films that the less you know the better. There is so much to love her from the humor to the drama down to the rap and culture making for a great overall feature. This cast looks to be having fun, but more so connect in a way that makes you believe what they say and feel for each other. I loved everything about this movie and hope that it gets the major props it deserves because it is one of those rare films that really showcases perfection in storytelling.