I have been to New Jersey, I have seen people free style, but I have never, ever, been in a drive by.
There is my bad intro joke to talk about Patti Cake$. After I saw the trailer for this film, I assumed it would be culturally insensitive. I figured it would be a cliche coming of age story or a film about a group of misfits succeeding against all odds.
And yeah, it is definitely a little bit of both. Whoops.
Oh shit, did we get an Ali G cameo?!
Patti aka Patti Cakes$ aka Killa P aka…a lot of other nicknames (Danielle Macdonald), is a woman living with her mom (Bridget Everett) and her grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) in a small, poor community in Jersey. She has small part time jobs, but a lot of her money goes to paying bills for her family and medicine for her nana.
Patti’s mom was going to be a big singer in the 1980’s, everyone loved her, but then she got pregnant. Now she is basically nothing, getting wasted on karaoke night, spending more time in the bathroom than on the stand. And Patti? Well, she is a big rapper.
I mean physically, because she certainly isn’t famous. She can freestyle, she can spit the lyrics out, but she is still a bit afraid to perform, and no one takes her seriously, because she is fat and white. The only person who believes in her is Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), a pharmacist, who wants to be a producer. They are often looking for ways to break out, and Patti thinks there future lies in Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), an anarchist who lives in the woods alone and who, yes, can also create some sick tunes.
Oh yeah, the last missing piece of their group was Nana.
Dealing with the cultural insensitivity of this film is a hard one. A lot of people don’t take Patti seriously, because she is a white girl trying to rap, and it is not in her culture to do so. Yes she is poor, living in a very small house that is abusive, where music is a big part of her upbringing, and she has way too many responsibilities for her age, but she is still a white chick. Stories where a white person tries something that is technically part of a desensitized race in America, and then flourishes? Yeah, that is all sorts of fucked up. A character uses the term Culture Vulture in this film to describe her, which paints a perfect picture of how it looks to the outside world.
The good news is that she doesn’t bust into the rap game and change the world. She is given a lot of shit and rightfully so. She has had a shit life, but it doesn’t mean she should automatically go and win all the prizes and take what was not originally hers. I enjoyed that it wasn’t a standard film in that regard.
The music of course I have no interest in hearing, but the relationships between the characters is where it mattered most. This ends up being a story about a girl and her mom, their inability to see eye to eye about anything. The relationship between her and her best friend didn’t feel natural. The relationship between her and Basterd was very interesting, but again, something that just seemed forced.
Patti Cake$ has some interesting moments throughout it, but a laughable premise with quite a bit unexplained reasons for why she and her friends can stand each other. However, I saw this movie over a month ago, and I can still remember parts of their main song. So if anything, it has a catchy hook to it.