I think it is fair to assume almost every college student under the age of 21 has belted (or at least disgruntledly murmured) the words “Fuck Tha Police.” Straight Outta Compton puts the phrase in a more important context, believe it or not (what’s more important that one’s passionate lust for underage drinking, right?). Starring O’Shea Jackson, Jr. (Ice Cube-incarnate) and a band of eerily-similar-looking-to-the-real-life-people-they-portray and actually quite gifted actors, Straight Outta Compton tells the story of the famously infamous revolutionary rap group N.W.A.
The first hour/hour-thirty of the film immerses the audience in the world of late ’80s Compton, California. It’s a rough world, of course, filled with drugs and violence, but it is not necessarily filled with bad people. This is an unfair world, where the people put in charge of protecting those who live in it, are, in fact, a significant source of pain and distress. The misguided thoughts and actions of many members of the Los Angeles Police Department led directly to a sense of great tension and justified rebellion.
Not unlike any significant artist movement, the emergence of gangsta rap from the underground was the result of an intense connection people felt to it. To quote the film: “Our art is a reflection of our reality.” Was Henry David Thoreau a bad man for writing Civil Disobedience, for inspiring the non-violent protests of great men like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.? No, of course not. Were the actions of our Founding Fathers indecent because they fought to their own deaths to destroy a system they believed to be corrupt? The lyrics of N.W.A.’s songs were not ignorant or unnecessarily aggressive; they were simply the words of a truth so many in America believed in.
All this taken into consideration, Straight Outta Compton is a fun-ass movie. It is hilarious, exhilarating, hardcore, and heartfelt. From Eazy-E’s first few lame attempts at putting down a track on “Boyz-n-the-Hood,” to being chased off-stage by a band of Detroit cops, the majority of the film is non-stop, full-throttle go go go. That middle hour feels like all of ten minutes when you’re watching it.
Especially enjoyable is the long, uncut shot of Cube and Dre storming through their hotel room to ascertain the location of Felisha, only to find her partaking in an act of intimacy with Eazy-E, thus being forced to grab their huge-ass machine guns and bust out the other door and chase Felisha’s pissed-off boyfriend and his pals down the hall. “Bye, Felisha.”
The second half of the film slowed down a bit, and it felt as though it started to toss stuff in simply because it had happened in real life. Namely, Dr. Dre’s car chase with the police. Although prefaced somewhat with an angry outburst, it came off as unnecessary and slightly random, and it did nothing to drive the plot whatsoever. But despite some slow segments, Straight Outta Compton is great fun and relevant to the time we live in. Go check out this film, and bring your Boyz.