|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
Thanks to the energy of its charismatic star and wonderful supporting cast, Director Geremy Jasper's Patti Cake$ is a joyful experience. Danielle Macdonald, a star in the making, plays Patricia Dombrowski, a hardworking but consistently struggling New Jersey woman who moonlights as a rapper. Patti, aka Killa P, aka Patti Cake$, lives with her promiscuous, alcoholic mom, Barb (Bridget Everett), and smartass grandma, Nan (Cathy Moriarty), in lower-middle-class hell, and only her best friend, Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), believes in her musical prowess. This against-the-odds story is nothing new, but Macdonald and company embrace the material so fully that it is nearly impossible not to smile as Patti smacks down the competition with her sick rhymes.
Patti's mom does not work, and Nan suffers from health problems. Patti tries to supplement the family's disability-check income by taking catering jobs. Her true passion is rapping, and she uses Jheri as her hype and beat man. One day she stumbles upon a troubled, reserved metal-rapper, Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), and wears him down enough that he tolerates Patti and Jheri's presence in his homemade studio. White, female and overweight, Patti is not exactly universally embraced in the local rap community. Acquaintances in the neighborhood call her "Dumbo," and a jealous male opponent physically assaults her during a rap battle. Patti remains undeterred, and, with the help of Basterd and Nan, drops a track good enough to give to a local DJ. The song, "PBNJ", uses a sample of Nan's voice, and slides into your brain like an earworm.
To be frank, I've gotten burned out with most movies of late. Patti Cake$ is an exception, and I enjoyed it from the opening logo to the final credits. Jasper lets his cast run wild with the material, but keeps the project grounded enough to affect genuine emotion. Moriarty is absolutely awesome in her supporting role. I especially enjoyed her album-cover shoot with Patti, Jheri and Basterd, in which she wears a ski mask while smoking a cigarette. Macdonald is a breath of fresh air amid a host of stuffy young actresses. This talented woman nails the character of Patti, an eternally optimistic, fat-Caddy driving dreamer who is pictured in fantastical sequences flying down neighborhood streets and starring in elaborate rap videos. When Jheri sounds off upon Patti's entry into the drug store where he clerks, his boss hurriedly takes back the microphone to avoid losing a host of customers. Patti Cake$ is both funny and touching, and it never overstays its welcome.
Everett is also fantastic as Patti's mom. A comedian, actress and cabaret performer, Everett is incredibly talented. In a role that fits like a glove, she plays a has-been singer who occasionally embarrasses Patti by grabbing the mic in bars before getting blackout drunk. When Patti returns home one evening to a police cruiser in the driveway, she assumes mom has gotten another D.W.I. Turns out, a local cop wants Barb to front his band. She is reluctant to do so, and barely supports Patti's dreams out of fear Patti's life will turn out as empty as her own. There is some solid drama here, and I also liked the Patti/Jheri dynamic. The odd romantic relationship between Basterd and Patti also is a nice change of pace from the norm. The cast is stellar across the board, and, even if the material is not groundbreaking, Patti Cake$ is a rousing success.
The 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer accurately reflects the intentions of Jasper and cinematographer Federico Cesca, who give the film a gritty, peak-behind-the-curtain appearance. With shots that range from documentary style to imitation fan filmmaking, Patti Cake$ is not the prettiest film, but the transfer certainly does its job. Sharpness and detail varies depending on the shot, but texture and fine-object details are readily apparent when intended. Colors are subdued but nicely saturated, and the grimy streets and clubs of New Jersey are presented with ample clarity. Dimly lit interior shots suffered for detail occasionally, but black levels remained steady. Other than some minor banding, the transfer is free of technical flaws.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is lively and energetic, and supports the frequent rap beats and rhymes with ample LFE support and nicely realized surround backup. Dialogue is crystal clear and layered appropriately with effects and music. The LFE plays heavily into this mix, and it at times goes wild. Environmental effects like traffic and weather surround the viewer, and a few more vibrant effects make great use of sound panning. A Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is included alongside English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc "combo pack" includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and both iTunes and UltraViolet HD digital copies. The discs are packed into an eco-case that is wrapped in a matching slipcover. Extras include A Slice of Cake$ (21:28/HD), a solid EPK about the project. You also get a Commentary by Director Geremy Jasper; the "Patti $ea$on" Music Video (2:55/HD); a Lyric Video (1:33/HD); four Promotional Featurettes (7:01 total/HD); and a Gallery (2:40/HD).
Patti in the motherf***in' house! This entertaining, beat-the-odds story about an aspiring New Jersey female rapper offers an excellent cast and plenty of laughs amid the heavier drama. The story is not especially unique, but the cast fully embraces the material to create an wholly enjoyable film. Highly Recommended.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.