Case Number 12442: Small Claims Court

AMERICAN HUSTLE: THE MOVIE

Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2007 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // November 23rd, 2007

The Charge

Twenty cities, forty shows, twenty days, and it all comes down to this.

The Case

Katt Williams is edgy, inappropriate, and unrepentantly politically incorrect. He's also funny as hell.

Williams shot to fame playing "Money Mike" in Friday After Next and has parlayed his trash-talking pimp persona into a successful stand-up career that's included guest shots on TV, supporting roles in films, and his own HBO special, The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1.

In American Hustle: The Movie, we're given a plot, though it's more of a device. Hollywood comes calling for the talented Katt, but the trying-too-hard-to-be-hip young white producers offer him crap, including a scaled-down version of 300 (called 3) and a project that crosses March of the Penguins with Brokeback Mountain. Disgusted, Katt revs up his pimpmobile (the Katt-a-lac) and picks up his friends, fellow comics Red Grant, Melanie Comarcho, and Luenell, who's pimping herself out doing raunchy stand up at a nursing home. They head cross-country, stopping along the way at a few comedy clubs where Red, Melanie, and Luenell do some spots, before getting to the main event: Katt's show in Chicago, which Red announces as "The Pimp Chronicles 2."

Williams onstage is a fireball, cocky, confident, and outrageous. He liberally and unapologetically tosses around the "N-word," and some of his bits about women might make Andrew Dice Clay squirm. He shoots wild and hits more than he misses. Williams is a commentator and an observer, and his riffs on global, sexual, and personal politics, racial stereotypes, and pop culture figures -- Did you know that the late Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin was one of the "biggest gangstas"? -- are often fresh and insightful. His delivery is a breathless machine gun, rapid fire and manic. He's a marvel of timing and nuance.

In real life, Williams has courted controversy, both intentionally (he recently wore a noose around his neck to the BET awards) and unintentionally (in 2006, he was arrested for trying to bring a stolen gun onto an airplane, an incident that becomes fodder for his act). That he's a family guy who has adopted seven children -- in his act, he talks about his daughter, who was born addicted to crack, and the story is funny and sad at the same time -- makes him kind of endearing.

The DVD itself is no great shakes. The audio is all over the place, and I found myself raising and lowering the volume frequently. There were a few points around the 80-minute mark where it seemed to go out of synch. The picture is clear, pretty standard-looking for a performance DVD. The Hollywood plot is really just a silly, extended skit that adds nothing. The "road trip" aspect is fun and a good excuse to see Luenell, Melanie, and Red do some bits, but all this is really just a way to pad Williams' 50-minute set for a feature-length running time. For extras, we get longer versions of a couple of the Hollywood scenes and some bloopers.

American Hustle: The Movie is not going to be to everyone's liking. It's raw and crude and offensive. It's also weirdly insightful and frequently hilarious. Williams is a guy to watch. I suspect that even toned down, he could deliver the goods.

Williams and company are found not guilty, but not innocent, either.

Review content copyright © 2007 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 82

Perp Profile
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Extended Scenes
* Bloopers

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1135090/combined

* Official Site
http://www.americanhustle-themovie.com/

* Katt Williams Site
http://www.kattwilliams.com/

* Article on Katt Williams
http://www.pe.com/entertainment/stories/PE_Fea_Daily_D_comic.kattwilliams.2b25592.html