Review: PATTI CAKE$ Is The Feel-Good Movie We Could All Use Right Now

Geremy Jasper's debut film is good for what ails you.

You can, and should, purchase tickets to see Patti Cake$ at the Alamo Drafthouse right here.

Let's be frank: for most of us, 2017 has not been a banner year in the ol' morale department. On the political side of things, the planet seems to be going insane. In the world of entertainment, franchise fatigue is setting in (for many of us, it feels like it's doubling down). Everywhere you look, there's another reason to feel discouraged ... which is probably why Geremy Jasper's Patti Cake$ feels like such a welcome relief. 

Jasper's film tells the story of one Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald), a struggling white-girl rapper trying to pull herself up and out of her humdrum New Jersey existence and into the big leagues. Because this is an underdog story, we know that getting there won't be easy. Her mother (a brilliant Bridget Everett) is bleeding her dry, constantly holding her back. Her peers - a parade of roustabouts and wannabes each on their own quest for fame - don't take her seriously. And let's be frank: Patti Cake$ simply doesn't fit the admittedly shallow mold we tend to associate with successful female musicians.

But goddamn, does she have the flow.

Patti Cake$ is probably the movie you think it is: it's a feel-good story about a put-upon character overcoming astronomical odds. I suspect that, for some viewers, this familiarity will be reason enough to dismiss the film, but to do so would be to rob yourself of an exceptionally fun viewing experience, one filled with colorful characters, charming performances, and a no-shit excellent soundtrack.

Speaking of which, what Jasper's done here - alongside his amazingly talented cast - is quite impressive: he didn't just write and direct the movie, but also wrote every song you hear onscreen. Even more impressive: word on the street is that Macdonald had no experience rapping before taking on the role, and you'd never in a million years guess that to be the case as she crushes one performance after another. I cannot oversell how strong the music and the musical performances are in this film. 

Macdonald isn't the only talented cast member, though. I've already pointed out how strong Everett (as Patti's ne'er-do-well mother) is in the role, but special mention needs to be made for Siddharth Dhananjay - who plays Patti's musical partner, Hareesh - and Mamoudou Athie, a black punk-rocker who joins forces with Patti's crew along the way. Everyone here kills it, elevating roles that might have been cookie-cutter and uninspired in the hands of lesser performers. 

Look, Patti Cake$ does not reinvent the wheel. You watch the trailer, and you pretty much know what you're gonna get. This is definitely the sort of movie you've seen before, but it's also a very, very good version of that movie, and earns a ton of bonus points by revolving around the type of folks we rarely see represented on film. In the middle of a summer overflowing with sequels and CGI buffoonery (and smack-dab in the middle of a year that could use a few more feel-good stories), Patti Cake$ feels like a necessary shot of inspiration, a reminder that it's never dumb to follow your dreams and be yourself.

I had a blast watching this movie, and I think you will, too. Recommended.

Again: you can purchase tickets to see Patti Cake$ at the Alamo Drafthouse right here.

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