Few recent examples of Hollywood pop art have ransacked the bin of history with as much loose energy and invention as Bryan Barber's movie, set in a 1935 Georgia backwater and invoking a Depression morphed and tickled with hip-hop, digital animation, and movie memories. At the same time, Idlewild has a sober, loving respect for history and the old South, and thereby grants itself a bouncy measure of distinction. It's also the most substantially conceived movie vehicle hip-hop stars (here, OutKast's Andre "Andre 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton) have ever gotten, which isn't saying a great deal. Tinted sepia and dolled up in supreme period duds, Barber's all-black universe revolves around a bustling nightclub/speakeasy/whorehouse with chicken coops onstage and a seething backstage warren of clutter that never, despite the film's reputedly tiny budget, feels redundant. The narrative lobs between Benjamin's Percival, a mortician by day with romance problems, and Patton's Rooster, a faithless family man who witnesses his boss getting whacked by a rabid hood (Terrence Howard, out-acting everybody). The bullet-time hoofin' acrobatics recall Winter Olympics replays, the offstage songs can be outrageously, if endearingly, wrong-headed, and the story ambles slackly. But there's no shortage of wit and rowdy spirit.
Director: Bryan Barber
Writer: Bryan Barber and Doug Stern
Producer: William Green, Scott Macaulay and Robin O'Hara
Cast: Andre Benjamin, Paula Patton, Antwan 'Big Boi' Patton, Paula Jai Parker, Ving Rhames and Malinda Williams