Hustle & Flow - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Hustle & Flow Reviews

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October 18, 2014
When I first watched "Hustle & Flow" in, like, 2009-ish. I thought it was "just" a movie about some pimp trying to be a rapper. And while I was right, there's more to the movie and characters than meets the eye. You have Djay (the main protagonist) trying to come up with a way to live, right? 'Cause he brings up the fact that he's not really livin' [as noted by Key, Day's producer] and that he hates "this shit" in regards to his pimp/drug-dealin' lifestyle. He meets Key and things get rollin'--now he's makin' his way to getting something accomplished, something that isn't just dealin' weed or collectin cash from his hos, something "more," right? Djay's really just looking for a way to be heard. A way to make things better for himself [and later, for the woman that he discovers that he loves]. In many ways, there's similarities to "8 Mile," Djay--like Rabbit--has ONE shot to make it big. To get his dream to become real involves him meeting up with famous underground rapper by the name of Skinny Black, who's returning to his hometown to revisit his roots (yeah, I didn't care about his character) [Skinny Black is played by Ludacris]. I don't want to spoil what goes down, but, in the end, Djay's climb to fame ['ironically'] is not a result of kneeling before someone that he views as the holder of the future. Instead, his dream comes about because someone closer to him [and more significant to his life] puts Djay's demo on the air. He didn't need Skinny Black, he thought he did, but....I guess you could say that he just had to follow his dreams the way that he felt that it needed to play out. The scene where Nola gets Djay his microphone and the scene where Djay picks up his demo from a toilet are two of the best ones from the movie. Particularly the 'demo in the toilet' scene--that's Djay's past, present, and future right there; Skinny Black, without any thought, treated it in the same way that Yevette viewed Djay's life. Or, at least, in the same way that someone from outside might turn, see how Djay lives, and think "damn, that's low, he ain't shit." But, because that Demo is the ONLY thing that Djay has; he doesn't hesitate from picking it up from that toilet with--who knows--what was in there. On a completely separate note, there ARE some intriguing social commentaries, I'd say, in regards to the "black community." There's a scene in "Freedom Writers" where a student says something like "if you cant dribble a ball or spit a verse, then you're dead," and Hilary Swank's character promptly asks, "but what if you can't dribble a ball or spit a verse?" I don't think the film was trying to highlight the lack of viable opportunities in the black community from the perspective of a young black male, but that seems to be a vague underlying 'theme.' BUT, I'm not standing by that point just because this story could be told through anyone's lenses. Like, if you have a certain location, ethnic demographic, limited education tools and access, etc then the story could have been about a young Asian male or a young Hispanic female. I mean, Hip Hop isn't black and white, but I don't want to rule out certain things completely. Nevertheless "Hustle & Flow" is a good movie, I don't think you have to be a rap fan to recognize where the film's trying to go and what the characters are trying to do. Terrance Howard, Taraji P. Henson (she's so sweet here), Taryn Manning, and everyone else do an excellent job.
½ September 23, 2014
Terrence Howard and his songs are brilliant.
½ September 3, 2014
Terrence Howard shot to a list status with his convincing portrayel of pump/drug dealer and aspiring rapper Dee Jay. This premise is familiar and the hype was a little too much, but it's effective enough to forgive it for its short comings.
½ August 25, 2014
Terrance Howard's best performance.
July 21, 2014
Came out of nowhere, good film
July 12, 2014
Terrence Howard has been giving good performances for years but it really does seem like he's been under appreciated for a long time now. This is definitely one of the things he's most known for and for good reason. Hustle & Flow presents a rather simple story because it's been beaten to death by worse films but adds a realistic spin on it and the actors invigorate the whole thing with a real passion.

What really makes the whole thing as compelling as it is, is indeed, Terrence Howard, not only is his performance very real and you can sense that he felt every moment of it. It's also that he is written in a complex way and isn't always the likeable hero. He does things that are stupid, selfish and down right aggressive but it just adds to the character and keeps enforcing the real life aspect of it all. No matter how nice a person is they will always have a bad day and snap once in awhile, no one is nice all the time. Even though on the whole I think it's a good thing he's written like this, sometimes I felt like he garnered little sympathy from me at times because of how unlikable he is in spots. You wanna root for the good guy but when the good guy is complex, isn't really all that likeable and isn't really a 'good guy' by definition, it becomes complicated. Nevertheless, you feel for the guy all throughout of the film because of his troubled life and his determination to fight for his dream.

Not only Howard but everyone does great here. Everyone gets a little funny pieces of dialogue now and then, most of them get developed- all the main ones anyway and the dialogue is really snappy. The way these people talk, again, feels real. Not a lot of it feels manufactured for a Hollywood film. DJ Qualls played a very convincing school student and even now he still looks young, he was great casting. Anthony Anderson was great too and it's always great seeing him in a film, Taraji P. Henson was excellent and played a very emotive character, Taryn Manning was very sympathetic and Elise Neal was really funny and had great dialogue. There are some I have left out because literally everyone is good here and I'd just be naming everyone involved really. The whole cast is amazing.

The script is really good, not only for dialogue but for how some of the scenes play out. It's a very hard film to watch with powerful striking imagery of where the film takes place and what life is like in places like this. Everything works amazingly here, it was a perfect combination of real emotion and powerful acting with a scenario and story that's so well crafted it really does get to you in some way or another. All the technicals are perfect, one of the first things I noticed is how rich the colors of the film look and how stylised the cinematography and lighting was. It all comes together to, again, make everything feel real and it looks amazing. The film is very rich in tone and atmosphere. And of course! The music was absolutely excellent, I was really getting into some of these songs and I knew some of these before I saw the film I couldn't help but hum along at some points.

The only complaint I can even think of is that about with 25 minutes left of the film to go, it got a little slow and nothing seemed to really happen for a little bit, but the very unconventional ending happened, which took me by surprise and at first I wasn't really liking because I thought that all I watched was just a waste of time but turns out it wasn't, it fits with the theme perfectly and it picked back up again so I don't really know if they even count as a negative because they both cancelled each other out anyway. I did say about how Terrence's character earlier but I don't think it's all bad, it works for the story.

It's a very engrossing rags to riches story that feels very real, for once, and isn't just a very vanilla happy easy story of the underdog just being a nice person and coming through in the end; no. Hustle & Flow is a very powerful film with striking imagery, powerful acting and great music. It's a really great achievement in filmmaking. Chris Brewer is really a director to look out for, he's only made a few films so far but he's done a great job so far.
June 12, 2014
A conventional story no matter how you slice it, structurally hustling and flowing like DJ Qualls' beats. Side note: Every movie needs a little more DJ Qualls.
April 25, 2014
I think this is a great movie, about a pimp trying to get famous. Terrence Howard does an amazing job acting in this movie. Hustle & Flow is a "must" watch movie.
April 21, 2014
Pretty good movie about a rapping pimp has it's ups and downs. An effective scene will be followed by a misfire. Consider this great trash.
April 12, 2014
This has been on the top of my flixster list for years now and I finally decided to watch it and I'm glad from start to finish this was an excellent movie. Great cast and a really great script and the music was really good too. One of those movies that just surprises you.
March 30, 2014
It comes across as authentic and is expertly written. With a talented cast this movie is a must see.
March 26, 2014
A pimp decides to change his life so he decides to try out a career in rapping. He works with some of his friends in a basement to create a few tracks but he quickly learns fame isn't quite what it seems to be. An ok film, not as good as Brewer's other films like Black Snake Moan, but a pretty solid entry. Also has Three 6 Mafia doing a few songs so that's good.
March 1, 2014
Great Indie film... At least something different from America. Great stuff, nice underground touch, good acting from almost unknown actors (except for the protagonist and Ludacris). Recommended!
February 24, 2014
captivating from many angles
½ February 23, 2014
Surprisingly entertaining movie with a great script.
February 16, 2014
less like 8mile or get rich or die tryin, more like boyz n the hood or menace to society. I really like this movie more so for its authenticity then the music element, its about a gimp trying to make it as a break dancer no a pimp trying to make it as a rap star with the help of hookers and a old friend. great dialogue great performance by terrence howard.
December 26, 2013
A great movie. I have nothing negative to say about it at all.
December 21, 2013
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
December 9, 2013
the best Memphis movie ever!
½ November 28, 2013
"Hustle & Flow" is one of the most entertaining, stylish films about music I've ever seen. Terrence Howard is phenomenal, Craig Brewer's direction keeps things moving, and the soundtrack is awesome.
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