Over the years there have been quite a few films about music. Everything from biopics of legends in the music industry to parodies like Pitch Perfect. One of the more modern films based on the music industry was 8 Mile, starring Eminem. Most rap fans will likely remember 8 Mile. It wasn’t the best movie ever made, but it was a solid entry in the music industry genre of film. Patti Cake$, the latest film from director Geremy Jasper, is essentially 8 Mile with a gender-swapped lead.
Instead of Eminem heading up the film, Patti Cake$ follows hopeful rap star, Patti (Danielle Macdonald), as she tries to make her way out of the New Jersey ghetto and into the big leagues of rap. If you think that sounds a lot like 8 Mile, you’re not alone. There are quite a few parallels between Patti Cake$ and 8 Mile, but the real question is, if you remove the star power of Eminem, can a film like this still hold up?
The beginning of Patti Cake$ introduces you to the eclectic cast of characters that you’ll be spending the next two hours with. Patti is an overweight 20-something who doesn’t have a great job or a positive home life, but she has big dreams (literally) of becoming a rap star. She’s a lyricist for sure, but without a big break, even the best lyricist won’t make it to the big leagues.
Joining Patti on her journey is her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) and the mysterious character known as Basterd (Mamoudou Athie). Both of these characters serve as the Ying and Yang of the film, with Jheri offering most of the comedic relief and Basterd being a very stoic and seemingly unemotional addition to the story. Patti and Basterd show emotional growth during the film as they spend time together, while Jheri is basically just there to make things fun.
Patti Cake$ is about what you’d expect, especially if you’ve already seen 8 Mile. You see the struggles that Patti and her friends have to go through. Throughout most of the film the audience is left to wonder if Patti and her crew will make it to the big time. Will there be a big finale at the end in front of the big record label mogul? While the film does fall into some very predictable routines, it also offers a breath of fresh air into what can often times be a stale genre of film.
Almost every scene featuring Siddharth Dhananjay will make you smile. He brings life to a film that would be void of joy without him. However, as you get to know Patti’s family, her mother Barb (Bridget Everett) and Nana (Cathy Moriarty), you quickly start to feel for the hopefully starlet as well. Most people will find themselves rooting for Patti and her group by the end of the film, but luckily, writer and director, Geremy Jasper, manages to avoid a stereotypical ending, while not disappointing a hopeful audience.
Patti Cake$ isn’t the best film of the year, or even the best movie to release this month, but it’s a fun and entertaining experience. If you’re a fan of 8 Mile for more than just Eminem, there’s a lot to enjoy in Patti Cake$. While it’s probably a little too much like 8 Mile, and doesn’t quite stand out on its own as much as it should, there’s still a lot to like here. If you’re not a fan of rap, the characters are still enjoyable, but you’ll be missing out on many of the highlights in the film.
About Patti Cake$
Synopsis: PATTI CAKE$ is centered on aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.
Director: Geremy Jasper
Writer: Geremy Jasper
Stars: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay
Runtime: 1 Hour, 48 Minutes