There are few movie forms more stagnant than the biopic. I am not a fan for the most part, and it takes something special to knock me out of that mindset. While "Straight Outta Compton" plays by the rules for the most part, the film has a great cast and an undeniable energy that drew me in, and considering we're talking about events from a quarter-century ago, there is a surprisingly urgent undertone to the entire enterprise that reminds us that we have not made as much progress as we'd like to think as a culture.
Screenwriter Andrea Berloff made her feature debut nine years ago with "World Trade Center," and she hasn't had a produced credit since. She had an impossible job here, trying to boil down the rise and fall of an iconic band to a mere 142 minutes. Jonathan Herman is co-credited for the script, with S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus both credited with story, and I'm not surprised it went through a lot of handsFor the most part, the film follows a familiar shape, with the early rise of the band inevitably playing as more fun and thrilling than the later years, and that's sort of unavoidable. Director F. Gary Gray has directed the film as modern myth, charting the major highs and lows of the band through the filter of knowing exactly what's going to happen to each of them. This is a movie that is not afraid to foreshadow like crazy, and in some cases, that was part of the fun. Even before he speaks a word, the appearance of Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield) for the first time got a big laugh out of the audience, and likewise, the moment Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor) shows up at the edge of the frame, it's like the first time the fin breaks water in "Jaws."