I went into Straight Outta Compton without any preconceptions, only a bit of exposure to the controversies about the film (more on that later), and without much knowledge about the history of NWA.

Net response: I recommend the film, flaws and all, because a wide audience needs the history and context.

What’s good: the first two-thirds or so of the film had me along for the ride. The pacing and energy and story carry the formation and rise of the group. The situations they encounter seem still topical, which is a shame but true. O’Shea Jackson, Jr. is such a deadringer for his dad, Ice Cube, that I had a hard time taking my eyes off of him whenever he was onscreen, which is a lot. Liked all of the performances.

What’s not: the film avoids important elements of the history related to the abuse of women (which diminishes its credibility), it’s a bit long, and the final third or so of the film devolves into clichés and leaves viewers without a sense of the central thesis of the story. What are we supposed to take away aside from obvious? What are the thematic underpinnings that could lift Straight Outta Compton above garden variety musical biopics?

Still, glad I saw it. Should have gotten to it sooner.



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