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On The Come Up Movie Review(2022); Details You Need to Know Right Now!

“On the Come Up,” which is based on Angie Thomas’ book of the same name, borrows heavily from earlier rap battle flicks like “Hustle & Flow” and “8 Mile,” but lacks the authentic sense of either of those movies. In Lathan’s aesthetic worldview, everything appears and sounds manufactured.

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On The Come Up; A Quick Overview

  • Venue: Toronto International Film Festival (Special Presentations, TIFF Next Wave)
  • Release date: Friday, Sept. 23 (Paramount+)
  • Cast: Jamila C. Gray, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Lil Yachty, Mike Epps, Miles Gutierrez-Riley, Cliff “Method Man” Smith
  • Director: Sanaa Lathan
  • Screenwriter: Kay Oyegun
  • Rated PG-13, 1 hour 55 minutes

On The Come Up: Review

Even though Garden Heights is frequently mentioned, Lathan and her cameraman, Eric Branco (“The Forty-Year-Old Version,” “Clemency”), hardly ever choose to use an establishing shot. Instead of letting us explore the elements that bring this area to life, movies often start with automobiles or buses driving into a static shot.

For reasons that aren’t quite clear, Lathan also decides to employ Bri’s internal monologue, in which she rhymes and counts out syllables, as the movie’s narration. Apart from vocalizing her craft, the voiceover does little to ground the character, and her interior monologues are so simple that they might just as easily have been taken straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Even though Bri is incredibly talented, her rise to success is not guaranteed. She gets body slammed to the ground by a security officer at her white high school, which claims to be working toward greater diversity. Due to Bri’s mother’s recent unemployment, their family is having financial difficulties.

When she initially entered the rap battle arena, a rapper made fun of her late father, and she fled. She finally defeats Supreme (Cliff “Method Man” Smith), the son of her father’s former manager and a powerful figure in the music industry, but her impulsive aunt thwarts her achievement by pointing a gun at a rival gang in the rap battle’s parking lot. Because her situation is dangerous, Bri has to leave Aunt Pooh’s protection to get the rewards that Supreme has promised.

Even while “On the Come Up” purports to be about a girl getting caught up in the evils of the music industry, it feels fake, especially after Bri creates a vicious diss track directed at her neighborhood gang. Her friends Malik (played by the endearing Michael Cooper Jr.) and Sonny (played by the snarky Miles Gutierrez-Riley) view her as a sellout who is trying to profit from a way of life she doesn’t endorse. Bri is willing to play the part if it will pay her, partly because she is unaware of the potentially harmful effects of her actions. 

The least credible aspect of “On the Come Up” is Bri’s innocence; it emotionally manipulates the audience and strains and distorts reality. I was raised on Chicago’s West Side. By the time we turned 10, we were aware of the beauty as well as the evident risks of the area of the city we called home. How can we think that a 16-year-old girl like Bri, whose father was killed by a gun, is unaware of the consequences of her actions? How is she so oblivious to Garden Heights’ realities? Instead of being factual, “On the Come Up” prefers to be an uplifting black movie about black people overcoming obstacles directed toward white audiences.

It’s a stale strategy. But in a movie that discusses Trayvon Martin, who, while important, is just one of many, and makes mention of Pandora as a useful streaming service and Soundcloud as a platform utilized by music managers, that unfortunately makes sense. No effort is made to modernize or broaden these allusions in order to make this movie relevant today. An awkward queer love story is hurried instead. 

“On the Come Up” follows the typical course and ensuing turns you would anticipate in a feel-good story, complete with all of the unnecessary side stories that come with these kinds of films. Even the conclusion of the last rap battle ignores the suffering and grief that separated mother and daughter as well as friends. The movie by Lathan is merely a poor replica of what came before. But even though “On the Come Up” is a huge failure, let’s hope Lathan comes back next time with a bigger and better film. 

On September 10, this review was submitted to the Toronto International Film Festival. On September 23, “On the Come Up” launches in cinemas and has its Paramount+ debut.