"Godless Mishmash Gets in the Way"
What You Need To Know:
PATTI CAKE$ is compelling and strange all at once. The music is catchy, but also sometimes vulgar. The characters are a mishmash and never achieve the chemistry to be believable. The movie seems to go out of its way to break racial and sexual stereotypes, but ends up getting in its own way. From the first scene, it’s clear the movie has little respect for God, though a hymn is sung at a funeral. Also, characters brush off Satanism as no big deal. Finally, sex, drugs, alcohol, foul language, broken families, death, and racism are all part of PATTI CAKE$.
(PaPaPa, O, AbAb, C, B, FR, LLL, V, SS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Very strong, slightly mixed pagan worldview where characters are accepting of any worldview, one character is a Satanist and calls himself an Antichrist but eventually becomes part of the protagonist’s new rap group and changes his iconoclastic ways, one character declares himself like Jesus and God, and, though a Jesus billboard with a cross is briefly seen, a hymn is sung at a funeral and hope is extolled, a character named O-Z touts himself as a rap Jesus and appears in a dream to declare himself to be the second coming of Jesus (gold teeth included); at least 116 obscenities, at least six profanities, a character is seen vomiting into a toilet, a character is seen peeing on the toilet, the middle finger gesture is used, gestures involving the genitals are used, a woman’s menstrual cycle is referred to, slang terms for genitals are used, a racial slur is used; violence includes a man punches a woman in the face and a character dies from an illness; strong sexual content includes many sexual references made in rap songs or jokes and a couple scenes show couples in bed together and imply they fornicated; poster of a nude woman is briefly seen on a wall and scantily clad women are seen performing in a strip club; several scenes show drunken people in a bar and one character works as a bartender; several characters smoke cigarettes, there is some illegal drug dealing, some scenes include references to characters smoking marijuana, a scene shows characters smoking marijuana in a recording studio; and, a single mother tells the story of getting pregnant as a teenager with the father running off, one character makes some racist comments, a girl is verbally bullied because of her weight, and a mother and daughter are disrespectful of each other in several scenes.
PATTI CAKE$ follows the struggle of an overweight, white rap hopeful from New Jersey, Patti Dombrowski, as she tries to make her dreams (literally) a reality. The movie opens in the midst of one such dream. A god-like figure and rap superstar, O-Z, sits on his throne, declaring himself to be the second coming of Jesus (gold teeth included). It’s green everywhere with an almost a heaven-like aura, and through it emerges Patty Cake$, his new hip hop disciple. She wows the crowd with her performance and cements herself as the next big thing.
Then she wakes up and goes to work at a sleazy local bar, where she constantly dishes back the come-ons and insults of drunken men. Her mom, Barb, is a karaoke favorite there, after her professional singing career stalled with Patti’s birth.
Though Barb diminishes Patti’s ambitions of being a star, Patti still admires her mom’s talent, finding it to be inspirational. However, she’s unconvinced she possesses the same talent to make it. Cue Hareesh, Patti’s best friend and pharmacist. In his spare time, he makes drug deals on the side, and raps, of course. The two together make a compelling duo, and he convinces Patti to record a single. However, they’re soon out $500 when Patti freezes up in the recording booth.
They need to find another cheap place to record, and Patti manages to track down an aloof rock musician she’d seen at a music competition. His name is Bastard the Antichrist, and he lives in a shack located at the back of a park called The Gates of Hell. Patti and Hareesh show up unannounced, not fazed much by the Satanic decor. They’re more interested in his recording setup and manage to talk him into letting them use it. He ends up joining along with Nana who had just been along for a walk in the park. The four form a rap group called PBNJ.
Hareesh finds a strip club for them to debut their single, but the live performance is a disaster. Through her new job on a catering staff, Patti is able to hand out their CD to party DJs, and even O-Z himself when she ends up serving an event at his house. However, he harshly criticizes her and crushes her rap dreams. Making it in the music is proving harder than she realized. Though Patti wants to quit, she never quite loses hope that she can escape the same sort of life her mother had lived.
PATTI CAKE$ is compelling and strange all at once. Most of the music is catchy, if not vulgar at times, and Patti’s recurring dreams play like a hit music video. Given that music videos are Director Geremy Jasper’s forte, it’s not surprising. However, the movie contains odd special effects that resemble THE MATRIX, which just look ridiculous when set on a neighborhood street. The characters are also a mishmash of atypical behavior, and they never achieve the chemistry needed to be believable. It’s almost as if the movie goes out of its way to break racial and gender stereotypes, and it ends up getting in its own way.
From the first scene, it’s clear the movie has very little respect for God, even though a Jesus billboard is shown briefly in one scene and a hymn is sung at a funeral. Perhaps the positive Christian content is an attempt to balance out all the Satanic paraphernalia seen in Bastard the Antichrist’s shack, or the profane way O-Z touts himself as a rap Jesus. The characters shrug off the Satanism as no big deal, though Bastard the Antichrist eventually changes his ways and reveals his name to actually be Bob. Sex, drugs, alcohol, foul language, broken families, death, and racism are all addressed at varying degrees in this movie, with an emphasis on foul language. The objectionable content gets in the way of the movie’s inspiring Rocky story. Media-wise viewers will avoid PATTI CAKE$.