Parents' Guide to

Patti Cake$

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

White female rapper chases success; language, sex, drinking.

Movie R 2017 109 minutes
Patti Cake$ Poster Image

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This film works as a root-for-the-underdog saga, giving us an involving view of an unrelentingly grim upbringing and the despair that follows. Patti has money troubles, a minimal education, and a dead-end future, obstacles that would smother less powerful personalities. In one ironic scene, a wealthy black producer natters on about art and then sneers at Patti's whiteness-rooted inauthenticity as a rapper, calling her a "culture vulture" who has appropriated an allegedly black-only art. Her poverty and grit underscores the absurdity of his assessment.

The talented cast of Patti Cake$ turns a fairly routine story into something special. Macdonald's power as both an actor and a performer is even more astonishing in light of the fact that she's Australian, someone for whom speaking with a Jersey accent and rapping are both foreign. The rap may not inspire shouts of "bravo" from the audience, but it's fun to hear Neosporin rhymed with Wheel of Fortune. Director-writer Geremy Jasper gives us a place where crude language is constant, as if what we think of as "dirty" language is the only thing foul and ugly enough to express the anger, pain, and frustration of people who know they've been left behind by the more privileged, better-educated elite. Barb thinks Nana may have "Oldzheimer's," and that is just the most minor indication of how ignorance has narrowed the boundaries and possibilities of all these difficult lives.

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