Don't answer that call. It's probably Judge Clark Douglas trying to kiss you through the phone.
"Soulja Boy? What the #@&$ is that? That $#!& is garbage. If the dude don't like it, I'll punch him in his face. $#@$ Soulja Boy."—Ice-T
Soulja Boy makes me feel old. This isn't due to the fact that his youthful energy reminds me that I'm not nearly as active as I used to be, but rather because he's an extremely popular musical phenomenon I just don't understand. Admittedly, I'm not the world's biggest hip-hop fan, but it's not hard to see why folks like Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West, Common, Eminem and Andre 3000 have earned their remarkable popularity. Soulja Boy, on the other hand, seems more like a ridiculous fad who has somehow managed to achieve sustainability. Never mind how many times "Crank That (Soulja Boy)," "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" (ugh) or "Turn My Swag On" have been played on the radio or how many celebrities have done the Soulja Boy dance; the actual songs are flat-out terrible.
Peter Spirer's Soulja Boy: The Movie is reasonably well-crafted and engaging, but it suffers immensely from the fact that it spends most of its time kneeling at the alter of a shallow, uninteresting individual. We spend a great deal of time with him, and we keep waiting for the film to reveal some of the "many fascinating and fractious facets" of the young hip-hop star (a promise made by the DVD packaging). Unfortunately, we mostly just witness Soulja Boy bragging about his success, showing off his swag, talking about how much he loves money, and finding colorful ways to throw his money away. I have no doubt that Soulja Boy himself would laugh off these complaints. In fact, he does so preemptively in this film. Don't like his movie? "Call me when they make a movie about you," he shrugs. Don't like the way he does nothing but brag about his wealth? "Real talk and money make people jealous," he declares. Any criticism is just hate from people who wish they had Soulja Boy's life.
Spirer admittedly attempts to take the film into more thoughtful territory on numerous occasions, but it's just so hard to take Soulja Boy seriously when he insists his frivolous dance album is "a masterpiece" filled with "real talk." Despite his superstardom, it's hard to forget that he's still just an immature kid (particularly when wears his Family Guy pajamas to an interview or when he knocks on a stranger's hotel room door at four in the morning and then flees the scene giggling hysterically). There are a few moments in which he attempts to tackle serious subjects with some measure of depth, but instead ends up seeming out of his depth. The documentary fares best during its final fifteen minutes or so, when it largely sets Soulja Boy's commentary aside and focuses on the wiser perspective of some of his older associates (who manage to address the struggles of fame Soulja Boy has encountered in considerably more engaging fashion than the superstar himself is able to).
Still, the film admires its central figure more as a businessman than as a musical artist. Like him or not, you must admit his meteoric rise to fame is rather remarkable. He's as much a model of the potential of capitalism as Mark Zuckerberg; a musician so wildly successful that he flings large stacks of $100 bills at concert audiences on a regular basis. Still, the fact that the documentary is more interested in hailing Soulja Boy's greatness than in really providing us with an in-depth look at the young man prevents it from ever becoming nearly as interesting as it could have been. For instance, in the famous feud between Soulja Boy and Ice-T, the film regards Soulja Boy as an unfairly targeted victim whose dignified response (essentially, "Screw you, I'm just trying to provide for my loved ones the only way I know how,") permanently changed the nature of hip-hop feuds. However, it's Ice-T's side of the argument which proves more compelling and worthy of examination: the fact that "ringtone rap" like "Crank That" is thriving instead of lyrically substantial, musically inventive material is flat-out depressing.
Soulja Boy: The Movie receives a pretty crummy DVD transfer, with poor detail throughout (admittedly, much of what we see is taken from YouTube, so it's no surprise that the quality is sub-par during those sequences). Audio is okay during some of the larger song performances, but the sound is sub-par during many of the interview sequences. Supplements include over 45 minutes of additional interviews with Soulja Boy's current and former associates.
If you're a big fan of Soulja Boy and just want to hang out with him for ninety minutes, Soulja Boy: The Movie provides a good opportunity to do so. However, this thinly-disguised promotional video simply isn't very compelling as a documentary and offers far too little music to qualify as a concert performance.
An intriguing side note: On October 18th, 2011 (the very day this DVD was released), Soulja Boy was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime. This event came only a month and a half after the hip-hop star had stirred up controversy by releasing (and subsequently apologizing for) a song that made derogatory remarks about the U.S. Military. Perhaps a more compelling documentary about Soulja Boy's life will present itself at some point in the future.
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