Hustle & Flow

Critics Consensus

Hustle & Flow is gritty and redemptive, with a profound sense of place and exciting music.



Total Count: 158


Audience Score

User Ratings: 120,138
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Movie Info

One man's struggle to rise above his circumstances prompts him to try a career in music in this acclaimed drama from writer and director Craig Brewer. Djay (Terrence Howard) is a low-level pimp and drug dealer who scraped together a living in the ghettos of Memphis, TN. Djay isn't happy with his life, and the realization that he's reached the same age when his father unexpectedly died has made him start thinking about changing his ways. Djay has always had a gift for spinning stories, and after picking up a cheap keyboard, he begins picking out beats to go along with his rhymes. After bumping into an old high-school buddy who works in gospel music, Key (Anthony Anderson), Djay decided to take the plunge and remake himself as a rapper. With the technical know-how of Key and the musical input of a local beat maker named Shelby (DJ Qualls), Djay begins turning his way with words and his first-hand knowledge of the street life into music, as his two live-in girlfriends, Lexus (Paula Jai Parker) and Shug (Taraji P. Henson), add their musical input and emotional support and Nola (Taryn Manning) continues to turn tricks to pay the bills. When local boy-turned-nationwide hip-hop star Skinny Black (Ludacris) comes to town to pay a visit to Arnel (Isaac Hayes), a club owner friendly with Djay, he sees an opportunity to put his demo in the hands of someone who can bring his music to the masses, though it turns out to be far more difficult than he expected. Hustle & Flow had its world premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where it received a number of rave reviews and took home the Audience Award. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


DJ Qualls
as Shelby
Elise Neal
as Yevette
Juicy J
as Tigga
Bobby Sandimanie
as Yellow Jacket
as Mickey
John Still
as Shop Owner
Jack "Jay" Munn
as Prison Guard
Michael Hooks Jr.
as Block Manager
Jerome Toles
as Police Officer
Al Kapone
as Kateezy
Jennifer Bynum Green
as Choir Lead Singer
Terrence Brown
as Piano Player
TC Sharpe
as Arnel's Drunk
Free Sol
as Bathroom Kid
Clarence Mabon
as Police Officer 2
Mark Goodfellow
as Pawn Shop Owner
Latasha Texas
as Stripper 1
Tracy Davis
as Stripper 2
Erica Miller
as God Bless America
Helen Bowman
as Defendant
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Critic Reviews for Hustle & Flow

All Critics (158) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (130) | Rotten (28)

  • Hustle & Flow is everything you want a film to be: unpredictable, daring, clever, heartwarming.

    Jul 16, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Howard redeems this lumpy fantasy. Soft-spoken and mysterious, he presides over the movie with a dangerous, feline grace.

    Nov 1, 2007 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • Follows the traditional Hollywood rags-to-riches tale but throws in unexpected grit and top-class drama.

    Sep 27, 2005 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Paul Arendt
    Top Critic
  • It's kind of a conventional story, but it's told in such a unique way and the locations in Memphis all feel very authentic.

    Jul 25, 2005
  • Hustle & Flow suspends you in its spell of mood, of feeling, of climate. It's a pop picture that finds its richness in peeling down to the essentials of good storytelling.

    Jul 22, 2005
  • Watching as a pimp, a pothead and a pregnant hooker play and sing in a makeshift bedroom recording studio, and becoming increasingly caught up in their determination and hope, it's impossible not to think that this is a part of the American Dream, too.

    Jul 22, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hustle & Flow

  • Jun 08, 2013
    A pimp tries to make it as a rap star with the help of his hookers and an old friend from the neighborhood. Terrence Howard turns in a fantastic performance, utterly convincing as Djay, a pimp with musical aspirations. His character seems real, fleshed out, and interesting, and Howard's work carries the film. The story is fairly basic, but I think the biggest problem is its misogyny. The filmmakers have to be aware of the ridiculous irony inherent in having a prostitute sing "Whoop that trick!" or "It's hard out here from a pimp." It's too ironic to be unintentional, yet I can't figure out what the intention is. After all, the film identifies with Djay's journey to such a degree that I have a hard time thinking of this film as satire, and trying to prove that prostitutes become agents in their own denigration isn't a productive insight. Overall, this film is worth seeing if only for Terrence Howard.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2013
    DJay: I'm here trying to squeeze a dollar out of a dime, and I ain't even got a cent man. "Everybody gotta have a dream." Hustle & Flow is one of those movies that I didn't want to see end. The film had a lot going for it, from a natural knowledge of the small time hustlers and dealers to the surprisingly good music; and of course there's Terrence Howard in the role that really gave him a name.  DJay is a smalltime pimp and drug dealer living in Memphis with three of his women and a small child. He's struggling with life as he enters a mid-life crisis because of a memory of his father dying at the age he is now. To try to improve his life, he begins rapping. He meets an old school friend who is now a gospel music producer, and brings him and another producer on to help make DJay's demo tape. This movie isn't overly original in anything it is doing, but the voice is good. The dialogue hits like a hard bass beat the whole film long. Especially when the words are coming out of Howard's mouth. Howard does a phenomenal job with his dialogue and the accent of the character. He basically is this movie and with it resting on his shoulders, it succeeds. The content isn't for everyone as there's a lot of demeaning language toward women and what not, but it can't be slandered for its content. The content is dead on and this fictional story of a hustler turned actor has a basis in real life as many rappers used to be exactly what DJay is. As far as a urban, music, crime drama goes; Hustle & Flow is an entertaining and well-made one to get into. 
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 18, 2012
    I hesitated for 8 years before finally seeing Craig Brewer's debut and I have to say I was very impressed. The biggest surprise to me was the amazing dialogue (written by Brewer as well), it's like if Tarantino made a film about southern hip hop, this would be it. Great performances by the entire cast.
    Graham J Super Reviewer
  • May 01, 2012
    [img][/img] Shortly after the film's release, the subsequent project by legendary and visionary director Craig Brewer which he also penned and directed was Black Snake Moan, my favourite film of all time. So by nature I was excited and had high expectations before seeing it but they were elevated even higher when I discovered that the film was phenomenally succesful critically. I was probably more frightened about being dissapointed with it than any film i've ever watched but it just completely overwhelmed me and then some. Everything about Hustle and Flow works. Terrence Howard brings Djay to life emotionally with an outstanding and thankfully recognised stand out performance that achieved a deserved Oscar nomination. It is masterfuly directed by Brewer who's tight script and inspired setting creates the film's emotional unrestraint and mind blowing depth. If there are two things i've learnt from Brewer it's that he can sympathise even the most disturbed and unsettled characters and animate societies social outcasts and thats what I love that about him, and the film he's made here. A pimped out soundtrack, perfect performances and expectations met, in my opinion it's one of the most edgy and entertaining films of 2004.
    Directors C Super Reviewer

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