Plot: Patti (Danielle Macdonald) doesn’t love her current lifestyle, but she has big dreams and the passion to pursue those dreams. She has an intense love for music, writing and performing whenever she can, whether she is on the toilet or battling other rappers in parking lots. Her mother was also a talented vocalist, but she looks down on rap and thinks little of her daughter’s music. But Patti has her Nana (Cathy Moriarty) and her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), so she gets good support and they even help her out with her music. An open mic night showcases local talent and when Basterd (Mamoudou Athie) performs, he captures the attention of Patti instantly. Soon she reaches out and with Basterd’s help, the group creates a new song that allows each of them to shine and be part of the process. This leads to a chance to perform at a local strip club, which means they need to craft even more music to perform. Can this eclectic group beat the odds and find some success in the music business, or will the door that is slightly open be slammed in their faces?
Entertainment Value: This movie follows well worn, familiar narrative ground, as underdogs buck the odds to pursue their creative passion, while the world doubts them every step of the way. This formula is common, but that doesn’t mean Patti Cake$ is doomed to feel like a carbon copy, by any means. While it does follow the usual blueprint, the movie manages to rise above the pack a little, thanks to colorful characters and a good amount of heart. Danielle Macdonald provides a charismatic, likable lead and that is crucial for a movie like this. If we don’t care if she finds what she is looking for, then the whole concept kind of tanks. But she is terrific in this role, bringing a big personality that has that special spark, then showing she can handle both comedic and dramatic elements. The supporting cast is solid as well, with Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamadou Athie, Cathy Moriarty, and Bridget Everett all on deck. Everett is excellent as a worn down singer who still chases her dream, though it is through dirty bars and karaoke nights. I also liked how real the world felt in this one, it felt like an organic setting and that helped the movie a lot. In the end, Patti Cake$ is formulaic and predictable, but it has a lot of charm and a terrific cast, which more than balances out the familiar elements.
No nakedness. A scene pops up where Patti is practicing rhymes on the toilet, but that’s as close as it gets. No blood either, as the movie rarely includes violence of any kind, let alone bloodshed. One scene does involve Patti taking a headbutt from a salty rapper, but that’s the extent of the violence here. The dialogue is quirky and fun, thanks to a host of colorful characters that inhabit the movie. Most of the humor lands and while I wouldn’t call it hilarious, it consistently entertains. Patti is a character with a lot of charm and a sharp edge, so her interactions with various others are fun to watch, especially her dysfunctional exchanges with her mother. No real craziness in this one, just some colorful folks and quirky lines at times. The movie follows the usual “inspiring underdogs” narrative as well, so nothing off the beaten path there.
Overall Insanity: 0/10