On Wedneday morning, I read a movie review of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ by a disgruntled critic. Yet I skipped work that afternoon to see it for myself. Obviously splitting early to shell out my hard-earned cash to Mr. Magic Shop — or is it Candy Stick — wouldn’t help me “get rich.” I sure hoped I wouldn’t agree with the critic, wishing I had back my eight bucks. I slid into my comfy theater seat with fairly low expectations…
Hours later, I emerged with a wide smile. I was excited: I liked Get Rich or Die Tryin’. A lot.
There are already mainstream critics who bash this movie because Fiddy is no Denzel Washington. There are already African Americans denouncing it because it’s centered in the drug trade and violence. But somewhere beyond all of that is a rich, ambitious film that was worth the wait and 50’s incessant hype.
I’m not about to divulge lots of specific details about the movie. But really, you should stop reading now if you want to see it through “virgin eyes”…
If you’re still reading, I hope to give you a more balanced but fun, layman’s sense of the film, juxtaposed the histrionics of some in the mainstream press and black activists. So in the spirit of one of 50 Cent’s popular songs, if you asked me 21 Questions about why you should check out Get Rich, I’d give you these 21 answers…
1. The film is terribly engrossing, with never a dull moment. High quality production with high caliber touches everywhere. Interestingly, you are not hit over the head with the rap aspect of this film, numerous concert performances, etc. The music’s there, to be sure, but Fiddy’s movement in the drug game and the circumstances that led him there are the real grist.
2. Fiddy’s acting is better than I expected. No, he’s no Denzel, so don’t go expecting a Denzel performance. Moderate that expectation and you may enjoy what you see.
3. Co-star Terrence Howard is a bit of a Denzel! His character is as compelling as Denzel’s in Training Day.
4. The entire ensemble cast is on point. Everyone pulls through with dynamic performances that give the overall film quite a lusterous lift.
5. The cinematography is top-notch. If you pay attention to scene composition, camera angles, mood lighting, etc., then director Jim Sheridan & Co. have made a nice piece of eye candy you’ll appreciate.
6. There’s one jaw-dropping scene that reminded me of HBO’s acclaimed prison series Oz. It will be one of the most talked about moments of this film.
7. This movie showcases a work ethic that “Many Men” (another song by Fiddy) would do well to emulate. Not at all condoning Fiddy’s prior profession, but can’t help but tip my hat to the discipline that he learned in the drug game and how he applied that focus to move up, out and away.
8. There is believable chemistry between Fiddy and Joy Bryant. A sweet, strong love between a thug and his goodie two-shoed squeeze.
9. I thought Fiddy’s mumbling would be annoying. But for the most part, I understood him just fine.
10. The opening scene is a monster. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
11. Bill Duke is a monster. Ditto.
12. The actor who actually performed in HBO’s Oz — Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — renders a complex and edgy character.
13. Quincy Jones & Co., of course, made a sophisticated musical score for this.
14. When thugs cry, sometimes they’re just faking. Well, that’s what Fiddy’s tears looked like to me: liquid plastic. If you like special effects, then you’ll like that somebody seemed to have gotten paid top dollar to create this man’s stiff as hell tear streaks. I could be wrong, but those tears looked store-bought!
15. The boy who plays Fiddy as a nine-year-old looks just like him. Excellent casting, through and through.
16. Fiddy’s skin looks pretty good. I don’t think it was just the make-up, either. Maybe he, too, has been using that miracle acne product that Alicia Keys, Jessica Simpson and Diddy are endorsing.
17. If you want to better understand street drug organizations, here’s another good peek inside.
18. There were plenty of belly laughs… Sure wish I could tell you more, but somebody might behead me for giving away too much. I’ll just say there are hilarious laugh lines here that will be embraced by urban culture for all time.
19. I loved seeing the relationship between Fiddy and his mom. She seemed like a sweetie and you really feel his loss and trauma in the film.
20. It was cool seeing Fiddy’s very white, toothy smile. Ain’t nothing as sexy as a rich chocolate gangsta with gleaming teeth and no fronts!
21. And good lord, when Fiddy and his girl are making love, one of his smooth moves sends an audible shockwave through all the ladies in the theater. I think Fiddy kinda hits a worldwide GGGG-spot!
I subtitled this review “Get Vic’d and Leave Cryin'” — using a slang term that means to be victimized or duped. But now having seen Get Rich and appreciating the art and adventure of it, I’ll say the only possible “vics” here would be those who let this film pass them by on the assumption that a little-trained rapper couldn’t successfully star in a quality film.
There was one point in Get Rich when I realized I was watching a film just about as enthralling as Goodfellas. This, coming from a person who has never purchased an album by 50 Cent, ought to tell you there’s something here that actually backs up all the hype.
So do not “wait” to see this movie. Get dressed and try enjoying!
For more on Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and other hot topics, visit the daily music blog Viqi French Fever.