Written and Directed by Craig Brewer
Starring: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P. Henson, DJ Qualls, Paula Jai Parker
Djay (Howard) is a hustler in Memphis. While plying his trade as a pimp and drug dealer, Djay begins to have dreams of something more. Now he’s working on transforming himself into a rap star with the help of unlikely accomplices (Qualls, Anderson). With his dreams on the line, Djay is willing to do whatever it takes to make a name for himself.
This is a powerful and inventive look at the struggle to rise out of the ghetto. Writer and director Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan) broke into the big time with this unique film. In addition to a good story, the film features some great music, including the Oscar-winning song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”. Between the dialogue and the music, this movie creates a very believable version of the life of a hustler.
The acting in this movie is surprisingly powerful. Terrence Howard was nominated for Best Actor for his gritty performance as Djay. The cast also includes great work by Anthony Anderson (The Departed) and DJ Qualls (Road Trip). Thankfully, the cast seems to bring their roles to life without relying on tired stereotypes and misconceptions. This is especially true of Taryn Manning (8 Mile), Taraji P. Henson (The Karate Kid), and Paula Jai Parker (Ray).
Unlike a lot of films based on hustling and criminal behavior, this movie doesn’t seek to glorify any of the behavior. This is a story about trying to find a better life. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Terrence Howard or any of the stars. I would also suggest this to fans of hip-hop or rap since it features some great music. If you like good drama I would suggest checking this one out. I give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.