"Rhymes to Riches"
A Review of "Patti Cake$" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Geremy Jasper, Writer: Geremy Jasper, Starring: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett. Siddharth Dhananjay
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
Patricia Dombrowski goes by many names. Patti Cake$, Killa P, just to name a couple. She is beyond average and finds herself in a dying town in New Jersey. Patti possesses a gift; a gift which may help deliver her from her withering home. Patti is part poet, all rapper, and is solely focused on making it as a white, overweight, woman in the world of hip-hop. Her journey is anything but expected and delivers one of the most memorable movies of the year.
Patti's home state of New Jersey is an important character in this film. In my mind, there is only one other place in the US this film could have taken place and that's Detroit. We've already seen "8 Mile," so New Jersey it is. All around our main character is a town crumbling to pieces. Jobs are hard to come by, addiction is rampant, and opportunity only seems to knock for a few. Patti wants to be one of those people knocking on the door. She has dreams of rising from rhymes to riches. What began as clever lines in notebooks and rapping with friends, slowly begins to blossom into something more. As an audience member, it doesn't take you long to realize you are experiencing a real talent. The great struggle of the film is her mission to have the rest of the world realize it.
To rise, she must battle stereotypes. Her race, weight, and gender are all weapons others use to try and keep her in a place she is no longer destined. This requires hustling, grinding, and battling. It requires two jobs, practice, and just a little bit of luck. There are valuable lessons to be learned here: We should always seek to positively defy other's expectations of us and rarely do we arrive anywhere substantial without hard work. There are many moments in this film when life gets in the way like an alcoholic mother or a dying grandmother and it would have been easy for our hero to quit. Luckily for us, quitting is never really an option for Patti.
The film's climax is a rap showcase in Newark. Patti and her crew find themselves competing with other talented acts. All are battling for a chance to take the next step in their career. Without giving too much away, this original piece of work could have chosen a typical Hollywood ending. instead, they chose a different route and by doing so delivered a perfect ending for a perfect role model of what it means to chase your dreams.
Be good to each other,