What Critics Are Saying About Straight Outta Compton

“Straight Outta Compton is something of a niche movie, and many will likely believe it to be an uncritical celebration of “rap culture”…For those willing to look past this, however, Compton is a fascinating exploration of the history and sophistication of an art form with which many white Americans are likely unfamiliar. Further, it raises questions of authority, power, and artistic responsibility that are as salient today as they were a quarter-century ago, but resists the urge to give pat answers.”

Entertainment Weekly
“Gray does his best to keep the momentum going while jumping back and forth between storylines, but with so much ground to cover, he lets certain threads slip from his grasp. At one point, Dre leads the police on a high-speed car chase, gets arrested, and it’s never mentioned again. It’s a tribute to how compelling N.W.A’s story is that you almost don’t care about narrative lapses like that.”

“Gray plunges us into that pressure-cooker atmosphere repeatedly, including one scene — depicted here as the inspiration for “F–k tha Police” — that can’t help but send a chill through the theater in light of the recent events in Ferguson and other black communities: While taking a break from the “Compton” recording sessions, the rappers are descended on by a swarm of Torrance cops who humiliatingly shake them down while disparaging the very existence of hip-hop.”

San Francisco Chronicle
“This movie’s Suge Knight is a little small, Eazy-E is too tall and Snoop Dogg is about half a foot too short. But the cast of mostly unknown actors blend into the history of their roles, to the point where it’s a distraction every time Heller comes on the screen. (“What’s Paul Giamatti in a white wig doing in these home movies from N.W.A.?”) Jackson is a standout as his father, Ice Cube, down to every head-cocked glare and lip quiver. Please, Hollywood, don’t ever remake Boyz n the Hood. But if you absolutely have to, do it right now, and use this guy.”

The Washington Post
“But Compton deserves a much wider reach than the group’s hard-core fans. Thanks to eerily on-point timing and adroit direction from F. Gary Gray, this classic star-is-born story manages to transcend its own tight focus. Even viewers who think N.W.A. is an airline will probably be electrified by a story that, while succumbing to its share of hagiography, still puts its subjects in context as avatars, not just of their time and place but of our own.”

Straight Outta Compton may not fully shake off many of the restrictions of the biopic form, but if anyone deserves to have some mythmaking done for them, it’s N.W.A. And if ever there’s been a time to raise some hands in the air, middle finger up, and give a rousing call-and-response to ‘F— tha Police,’ it feels like it’s right now. Both of its time and of the moment, Straight Outta Compton is potent and largely successful, and makes a hell of a case for why this was a story worth telling.”

The Guardian
“As a narrative, the back half of this movie is completely off the rails, but fans of the music will probably be more engaged. There are appearances of other stars that do little more than give the audience a chance to say ‘Hey, that’s Tupac!’ and ‘Hey that’s Snoop!’ Those who don’t bring outside knowledge to the film will find themselves clueless at a rousing final speech, in which the eventual name of Dr Dre’s record label is invoked. Worse, though, is how it loses all its edge to become hagiography for these men.”

The Village Voice
“In a 150-minute film, that’s a lot of paperwork. It’s clear what producers Cube and Dre are most interested in: the money. Story is secondary, especially when the facts are embarrassing.Straight Outta Compton deletes what could have been its best scenes — say, how Knight dangled Vanilla Ice over a balcony so he and Dre could fund Death Row Records with the profits from ‘Ice Ice Baby,’ the antithesis of gangsta rap.”

The Hollywood Reporter
“While the movie makes sense of the passions behind that song, it isn’t at all concerned with those who claimed the group’s other tracks glorified crime. And it cares even less about complaints concerning misogyny in their lyrics: Women are nonentities in this film, the spoils of commercial success. Only after a couple rise to the rank of girlfriend or wife do they even get to speak, with two or three lines of dialogue suggesting they may be sentient creatures.”

Chicago Tribune
“But Hollywooding a true story can mean many different things. Straight Outta Compton at its best evokes the heady atmosphere of Crenshaw Boulevard and what the group’s success meant to Compton, and vice versa. When the songs themselves take center stage the movie works. What remains in the wings constitutes another, fuller story.”

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