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Idlewild 

Bryan Barber


Idlewild
Directed by: Bryan Barber
(HBO Films)
Idlewild opens self-importantly with a quote cribbed from Shakespeare. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances,” shy mortician/ piano-player Percival (Andre 3000, half of OutKast) narrates. He then finishes the quote with a new ending: “All with a specific role to play.” This phrase is repeated throughout Idlewild—it becomes a funeral motif— intended, one supposes, to evoke a feeling of fate. The idea is that the movie’s events are catalysts slowly causing its conclusion—according to another oft-repeated quote, “God don’t make no mistakes.” The result is a heavy-handed treatise on destiny. Percival’s friend Rooster (Big Boi, OutKast’s other half), a mobbed-up singer/club owner, escapes death when a bible stops a bullet headed for his heart. It’s a weird note for the movie to strike—Idlewild is a musical set in the 1930s, full of dapper dressers and bootleggers, and its best moments come when OutKast lets loose with the anachronistic hip-hop that made its trailers so fun. Big Boi’s “Bowtie” is an elaborate spectacle and Andre’s two closing numbers are worth the rental. While the musical numbers stand out, they’re not trusted to carry the story; the movie’s trite maxims get to do this job. Unimpressively.
—Lindsay McCarney

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Vol 26, No 25
November 15, 2018

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