Reviewing the Reviews: 'Idlewild'

93838__idlewild_lIs Outkast’s new movie musical totally genius, ambitious but flawed, or a hot mess? It depends on which critic you choose to read — or, more importantly, believe. (EW’s own Owen Gleiberman gives the film an A-, calling it a "madly soulful and enjoyable period musical romance.") Read on to see how his take matches up with other critics across the country, and if you catch the movie this weekend, be sure to let your fellow readers know what you thought too.

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: "It’s easy to eat up the bake-us-a-cake-and-blaze-candles-on-it concoction… the sonic duo and writer-director Barber reverse somersault and twist headlong into a celebratin’ musical about two very different friends."

Teresa Wiltz, Washington Post: "For all its shortcomings, Idlewild also has something that few films can pull off: moments of such cinematic fabulousness, breathtaking dance sequences and idiosyncratic 3-D animation flourishes that we are more than willing to forgive it for all of its sins."

Steve Persall, St. Petersburg Times: "[Director Brian Barber] still needs work on the conventional stylings necessary in feature-length cinema, as opposed to a four-minute video, yet that doesn’t hamper our enjoyment of Idlewild; when things get dramatically stale, we’re confident that another sonic explosion with frisky visuals is just around the corner."

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: "The problem with marrying a screenplay to a batch of songs, however, is that you risk losing the plot. Which is exactly what happens to Idlewild, leaving it as a series of pretty-good pop videos wrapped around a confusing tale of Chitlin’ Circuit striving and conniving."

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
: "Which is not to say the project is a total wash. The soundtrack is a genre-hopping joy, and each musical number is cleverly staged and creatively choreographed. The problem is the noble mess of a movie that takes up so much space in between."

Jack Garner, Gannett News Service: "OutKast’s Idlewild is a flamboyant but admittedly entertaining mess of a movie, a jam-packed gumbo that offers some tasty bites and bits of spice but also quite a few mouthfuls that are impossible to swallow."

Claudia Puig, USA Today: "The music by OutKast is great, and the rowdy, randy en masse dance sequences are riveting. The story, however, is rather thin and lacks focus."

Jim Derogatis, Chicago Sun-Times: "In addition to this unnecessary fat in serious need of trimming, Idlewild suffers from a lack of focus, trying to be something for everyone: It’s a love story; a sub-Scarface gangster movie (complete with sudden and jarring eruptions of violence) and a buddy film — though the relationship between Patton and Benjamin is seriously underplayed."

James Verniere, Boston Herald: "Self-indulgent, melodically unimpressive and featuring, believe it or not, a telltale hint of necrophilia, the musical Idlewild arrives at a theater near you with a thud… [it’s] a timely reminder that winning Album of the Year at the Grammys does not make you instant leading men."

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: "It’s a sludgy, badly photographed, poorly edited bungle whose musical numbers never pop. Neither do its two stars."

Hey ya! What did you think, PopWatchers?

addCredit(“Idlewild: Doug Hyun”)

Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • Justin Mohareb

    Of course, Glieberman also gave O Brother an F, so his capacity for rational judgement when it comes to period musicals is suspect.

  • Todd

    I’m not going to watch it. Then again, I’m not going to the movies to see anything else, either.

  • bo

    I agree with the reviewers who said that the music and dance sequences were great, but the story (or stories, as it were) were thin. That said, I enjoyed it a lot.

  • ceej

    I don’t care what the critics say, I’m going to support this movie anyway.

  • d.c.

    It’s a sad sorry mess..

  • Hallie

    I’m sure I will enjoy this movie; even if it is a two-hour music video. With a group like OutKast, who wouldn’t love a two-hour music video? This is one of those movies where the plot doesn’t much matter; I expected critics to dislike it for that reason anyway, so the reviews won’t affect my opinion of the film.

  • bootsycolumbia

    I love Outkast, so yes, I will definitely see this movie.

  • JennT

    I cannot wait to see Idlewild, but it’s not playing in many theaters.
    We will definitely be there. Loved the album, too.

  • rachael p

    saw the movie last night and loved it! will watch it again on video. good job.

  • Hallie

    So I saw it and I loved it. I definitely understand the mixed reaction, though. It’s nice to see something defiantly out-there in a summer of sameness.

  • susan morrison-vega

    My husband and I loved this smorgasbord of visual and musical delights … Idlewild is our first look at Andre 3000 and Big Boi and they knocked our socks off … the film is juicy and satisfying … easily moves passed newbie filmmaking errors to give the audience a really pleasurable movie experience.

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