Turn It Up

"Weak"

Turn It Up Review


How would you like to be elected king for a day? The enormously talented Ice Cube paved the way for chart-topping rap stars to become media moguls, running his own music and film production company. His explosive talent and shrewd business sense made his success look easy. Wow! Anyone can do this! The market soon became flooded with rap artists vying for movie stardom, not to mention creative control. Most of the stories revolve around familiar "urban gangsta" elements such as tough-talking badasses with flashy threads, fast cars, nickel-plated revolvers and beautiful hoochie-mamas. In sum, well-photographed vanity projects that make the stars feel cool.

Case in point: international sensation Pras co-produced and stars in Turn It Up. It's about, what else, a young man's struggle to escape his life of crime. Redemption is the order of the day. Diamond (Pras) is a talented hip-hop performer who harbors big dreams of cutting his own record, but can't afford the inflated costs of studio time. His mercurial loose cannon of a best friend, Gage (Billboard chart-topper Ja Rule), wants to lend a helping hand, stealing $10,000 from an ill-fated drug runner. Unfortunately, the money financing Diamond's career belongs to a vicious British gangster (Jason Stratham, Snatch, good even when he's coasting) who suddenly takes an interest in stealing the rights to Diamond's record. Things sure are heating up around here.

Just in case we get bored with itemized record deal negotiations, there are a few back alley drug deals that go sour. Ha! Are there any other kind? Messrs. Pras and Rule are given ample opportunity to pop off several rounds of ammo in dramatic slow motion. John Woo's "two-guns-at-once" are combined with Quentin Tarantino's "point-the-gun-diagonally," since those techniques seemed to work well in other, better films. There's plenty of shattering glass -- can't have a shootout without some shattering glass! The rhythm and pacing resemble a lazy and inconsiderate lover, unimaginatively going through the motions.

Lest all this gunplay reinforce a negative image of the black community, there's an after-school special subplot involving Diamond's girlfriend (Tamala Jones). She's pregnant. Will Diamond accept the responsibility of being a father, or choose to pursue his music career? On cue, his long-lost pop (Vondie Curtis-Hall, Eve's Bayou) shows up with sage advice: Do the right thing, son.

During the dramatic "brother's keeper" scenes between Pras and Ja Rule, Manhattan's skyline looms in the distance. It's all about having a spectacular background, no? The two leads carry on with self-conscious intensity, performing as expected. They can't act, but they have charisma to burn with obligatory thousand yard stares and solemn affirmations of loyalty and respect. These rap sensations only come alive during their one live performance midway through Turn It Up, finally living up to the title as they bust their moves in a club (or is it an abandoned aircraft hangar -- all the better for a tie-in music video).

Turn It Up isn't a bad film, content to be merely sluggish and generic. Projects like this don't feel scripted -- they're packaged, complete with a hot soundtrack. I'll bet it made for a swell looking deal memo. If anything is to be learned from Ice Cube's success, it is not that rap stars make bankable pictures. Cube brought his own distinct, original voice to Friday and The Players Club, stories only indirectly related to the hood. He has an ear for vivid dialogue and seems carefully selective of his cast and crew. To date, he's been the only filmmaker smart enough to place the explosive comic Bernie Mac (The Original Kings of Comedy) in a lead role.

Audiences have responded to Ice Cube's material over his contemporaries because he takes calculated risks. The result is something fresh and new, and the masses thrive on fresh and new when the studios quake in fear at the thought of pushing the envelope. (Even when those films make tons of money -- I cite The Matrix and The Silence of the Lambs as world heavyweight champions of this theory.) Turn It Up never aspires to be more than an excuse for Pras and Ja Rule to flash their ultra-sleek MTV fashions for 90 minutes. With trends seemingly changing every week, the public is fickle. It's a safe bet there's another urban hip-hop drama being hustled through production even as you read this review. Watch out, Pras - your 15 minutes are almost up.

Or turn it off.



Turn It Up

Facts and Figures

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 6th September 2000

Box Office USA: $0.7M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 8%
Fresh: 3 Rotten: 35

IMDB: 4.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Mr. B, as Cliff, as Kia, as Mr. White, as David 'Gage' Williams, as Baz, as Marshall, as Seamus, Patrice Goodman as Jane, as Mr. Chang, Harry-O as Master Mix, Elain R. Graham as Rose, as Natalie, as Deborah, Jeff Jones as Minister, LeRoy Allen as Security Guard, Shinehead as Smiley, DJ Skribble as DJ, as Urie, as Denzel / Diamond

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.