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Hustle & Flow
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie, focused on the efforts of a pimp trying to change his life, features explicit references to sex and prostitution (as well as scenes in a strip club). Characters use harsh language, smoke, drink, do drugs, have sex, and fight with one another, on occasion drawing blood. Women wear scanty clothing.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DJay (Terrence Howard) is a Memphis pimp who is imaging a world beyond his own. When DJay gets hold of an old Casio keyboard, he's inspired to make music, specifically, to express himself through hip-hop. And so he tries to make a demo tape, with the help of sound engineer Key (Anthony Anderson) and church pianist/vending machine stocker Shelby (DJ Qualls), who brings his beat machine. They spend hours and hours putting together a couple of tracks, "Whoop That Trick" and "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." DJay delivers his tape to a rap artist, Skinny Black (Ludacris), when he comes by a local bar (the owner played by Isaac Hayes) one evening. Resilient in his ignorance, posing like a proud, tough guy, he can't escape the fact that he has a sense of history and context.
Is it any good?
Perceptive and provocative, HUSTLE & FLOW focuses on the limits and excesses of a DJay. Even as he's imagining a world beyond his own, however, DJay's vision is limited by immediate needs. Women, he admits to his new girl, Nola (Taryn Manning), are like men, not dogs, with aspirations and needs. Craig Brewer's first film doesn't hold back from showing DJay's gritty side: he's selfish, short-sighted, and angry, selling dirt-weed and living in a one-floor shack with his girls; in addition to Nola, the household includes lapdancer Lexus (Paula Jai Parker), her young son, and the very pregnant Shug (Taraji P. Henson).
The women are caught up in stereotypical roles, arguing with or supporting their man, who in turn sells their bodies to any creep with $20. But the actors bring depth, detail, and poetry to these character outlines. When Shug describes a recent nightmare (in which she gives birth to a dog, then finds herself "breastfeeding a big old catfish"), she thinks it through and concludes it's because of her fear of the unknown, a fear afflicting everyone in the house.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the obstacles DJay tries to overcome, including poverty and lack of education. How are his ideas shaped by media images (music videos, news)? How does music help him gain another perspective on his life? How is this pimp and drug dealer simultaneously appalling and sympathetic? How does he treat the women around him?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.