We go to movie screenings often at the TV Academy in North Hollywood and now that we live 10 minutes away, we go even more. I love inspiring movies but wasn’t sure about two of the films we were scheduled to see. I’d never heard of them before and their story lines didn’t sound like my cup of tea. If they hadn’t been screenings I probably would have missed them.
Patti Cakes$ is about Patricia Dombrowski, a young plus-size white girl played by Danielle McDonald, who lives in a rough New Jersey neighborhood. She idolizes O.Z., a successful rap promoter, and dreams of becoming a rap star. Her moniker is “Killa-P” but the local ruffians call her “Dumbo.” During an impromptu rap competition on the streets, she gets punched in the face by a rapper she has the hots for who lets her know she’s a disgusting pig.
Warning: I almost walked out during the first 10-minutes because of the rough language and nastiness but decided to give it a chance and was glad I didn’t walk out.
Patti grew up with an alcoholic mother Barb, played by Brigette Everett. Barb has an amazing singing voice but her career flamed out years before. She embarrasses Patti with her drunkenness and spends most of Patti’s income from bartending and other odd jobs on booze. She doesn’t think of rap as “real music” and can’t imagine Patti has a chance in hell of making it. Nana, Patti’s chain-smoking grandmother, played by Cathy Moriarty, calls Patti “my superstar.” She’s dying of lung disease. The three women live in a dumpy unkempt house where Patti does most of Nana’s caregiving.
Patti’s is somewhat like a white “Precious” and both independent films were produced by the Sundance Institute.
She teams up with her Indian friend Hareesh, played by Diddharth Dhananjay, who is also a rapper. He works at a pharmacy and his access to drugs helps them book a session with a music producer to cut a CD. Patti is offered a toke of strong hashish and gets too stoned to sing. At a jam session, the duo meets a strange outcast/musician who dubs himself the AntiChrist. When Patti takes Nana to the cemetery to visit her deceased husband she sees the man creep off from a grave into a tunnel. Patti wheels her napping Nana through the tunnel to follow him and discovers that he lives in a macabre shack on the other side. She goes inside to talk to him and later calls Hareesh to meet them. They convince him to help them record some tracks, using Nana’s whiskey voice as the down beat and call their group PBNJ.
Their demo gets them a gig at a sleazy strip club. As they’re about to go on, Patti gets a call that Nana is in the hospital and splits, leaving Hareesh to finish the show.
Patti gets a catering job and is excited when she’s sent to the mansion home of her idol O.Z. He requests a specialty cocktail and Patti delivers it. With his back turned from her, she begins to rap. He turns to look at her and immediately insults her, telling her she’ll never make it as a white female rapper. To make things worse, she’s fired from her job.
Without going into more details, McDonald gives a powerful and emotional performance as a truly creative performer who deals with the realities of her personal life, her weight and what it takes to break out in an impossible situation. The entire cast is excellent and the film is riveting.
Girls Trip is an over the top comedy about 4 high school friends, who call themselves “The Flossy Posse.” It stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish. The 4 women haven’t seen each other for years but get together when Ryan (Regina Hall) invites them to join her at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. She and her husband (a former football star) are promoting her book “You Can Have it All.” and they’ve achieved paparazzi fame as “America’s perfect couple.”
Sasha (Queen Latifah) is a gossip blogger, down on her luck. Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a mousy divorced mom who is reluctant to leave her kids but is persuaded to go on the trip, and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is loud-mouthed, crazy, and loves to party but is a fiercely loyal friend. It’s a wacky movie for sure. One of the funniest scenes is when Jada Pinkett Smith tries to zip line between buildings in the French Quarter. She’s totally blitzed, gets stuck in the middle, and pees all over the crowd.
You’re probably thinking, “This sounds like a dumb ass party movie. Why should I go see it?”
The deep friendship between the 4 women is what hooked me.
Ryan is trying to get a big deal signed with a promoter through her agent for a ton of money. She doesn’t let on to anyone that her “perfect marriage” is not so perfect. Even though she still loves her husband, they’ve formed a “partnership” and agree to keep up appearances. Of course, this doesn’t fly with her girlfriends. They figure out he’s been cheating, and his mistress shows up to cause even more trouble.
In the end, it’s about the importance of having true friends who will support you when your life is up in the air and who will keep you honest to yourself.
Other than one shot of an old geezer’s “you know what” and plenty of “F” words, it’s a fun and surprisingly emotional movie. I was almost in tears by the end, even though it’s a comedy.
Bad language and excessive drinking do not usually impress me, but in both inspiring movies, their messages are relevant, relatable, and powerful. If you get a chance to see them, you may enjoy them.
Seen any inspiring movies lately? What do you recommend? Please leave a comment below.