Patti Cake$ Screen 64 of 11 reviews

Patti Cake$

2017

Patti Cake$ Poster
  • This is a triumphant air punch of a movie. The fact that it is a formulaic underdog story – poor, white and podgy, Patti is not obvious rap star material – which dutifully hits all the required story beats, matters less than you would imagine. This is what feelgood cinema looks like and it’s plus-size, trashy and full of attitude.

  • Two stars are born in “Patty Cake$,” one of those rare crowd-pleasers that earn their love honestly. The first is the sensational Danielle Macdonald, who plays the second: the movie’s title character, also known as Patricia Dombrowski... The movie treads familiar aspirational ground: Patricia has dreams, pluck and obstacles (she’s routinely taunted because of her weight), but her outsider status isn’t fetishized or romanticized, and she’s divinely real.

  • What elevates it and makes it special are its attention to local geographic and atmosphere, the mundane aspects of working-class Northeastern U.S. life, and the culturally specific types you'll find in that environment. The movie is generally at its best when it's showing the intersection of white, black and immigrant youth around hip-hop, including weed culture, street corner freestyle contests, homemade studio jams and the sharing of homemade music.

  • Jasper tells Patti's story by blending kitchen-sink drabness with fairy-tale idealism. He's better at the idealism; for the realness, he favors wobbly closeups that often render his characters' faces unintentionally grotesque, and he works too hard at signaling the dinginess of Patti's surroundings. (Dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen have long been the international symbol for giving up on life.) But Patti Cake$ motors along steadily on Macdonald's unsentimental charisma.

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    Film Comment: Laura Kern
    March 03, 2017 | Sundance | March/April 2017 Issue (p. 65)

    With its annoying title alone, Geremy Jasper's feature debut Patti Cake$ sounded like quirk overload, but in actuality, it was one of the highlights of Sundance 2017. [It's s]atisfying like those underdog youth musical-comedies of the 1980s.

  • In the energetic, sparky Patti Cake$, an overweight white New Jersey rapper struggles to escape her dead-end life and fabulously blowsy, boozy, scene-stealing mother (played by Bridget Everett). Luminous plus-size actress Danielle Macdonald in the title role will draw plentiful media attention and support for Patti Cake$, and certainly the soundtrack bristles.

  • For all its jittery attitude and outsider milieu, though, the movie is too bent on pleasing crowds to cohere into a point of view. Indeed the most transgressive thing about Patti Cake$ is the whiteness of its heroine in a black world. While the bit parts are manned by local rappers, this is a story more about gender than it is about race, and Jasper ventures only a little way out on a ledge with that.

  • “The white Precious,” as one rival calls her, may be trying to master a musical genre known for ingenious metaphors and similes, but Patti Cake$ rarely rises above the literal. Visual redundancies abound: “Let’s go to the diner,” her desexed pal and beatboxing collaborator, Hareesh (Siddharth Dhananjay), suggests after a gas-station rap battle — his request immediately followed by a screen-filling sign reading DINER.

  • Geremy Jasper’s hardscrabble New Jersey fantasy has a heart—but an artificial one... Jasper hits every note of sentimental manipulation in a tale that’s as fleetingly affecting as it is insubstantial and mechanical.

  • The obstacles and opportunities that Patti encounters are often as rote as those characters, but her struggles and triumphs are detailed with a gravity that honors and elucidates her feelings. At the same time, periodic interludes from her comically lurid dream life and other flashes of humor... keep her journey from feeling too sorrowful or heavy-handed. In the end, many of the film’s parts are too flimsily constructed to linger long in the minds of the audience

  • Contemptible and grisly in nearly every way imaginable. A degrading fantasy masquerading as a narrative of quasi-empowerment... The film is hyper-engineered to be endearing: character quirks are cranked up to a deafening decuple, amateur hip hop that is neither cute nor gritty blares on the soundtrack, and the derivative screenplay undermines its own attempts at subversion.

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