Gangsta Rap: The Glockumentary
R1 - America - ThinkFilm
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (23rd February 2008).
The Film

"Mockumentaries" about the lives of musicians are just about able to qualify as their own genre. There are a lot of them out there, and some of them focus on rap music. "Fear of a Black Hat" (1994) and "CB4" (1993) both have their fans, but I don't think I will ever be able to say the same thing about "Gangsta Rap: The Glockumentary".

This film is essentially (no not "essentially", let's say literally), a scene-by-scene remake of the classic Rob Reiner/Michael McKean/Christopher Guest mock-rock-umentary, "This is Spinal Tap" (1984). The only difference between the two films is that the musical genre has been updated and that "Spinal Tap" was fun and poked sharp barbs at the heavy metal genre, whereas "Gangsta Rap" is somehow completely limp, even though it basically uses a recycled "Spinal Tap" screenplay.

In the first half hour of the film, we have the following:

... the setup of a band that was popular a decade earlier trying to make a comeback as a famous director documents the results. The name of the film is the name of the band.

... the director is often seen on camera interviewing the band.

... the director reads scathing reviews of the band's music to the band members, who try gamely if lamely to respond.

... artists reminisce about their first song and laugh as they remember it and start singing it for the director.

... the core trio of the band has a problem with their drummers / DJ's dying unexpectedly.

... the band has to deal with an obnoxious A and R girl at their record label, as well as a super nerdy label rep who tries to seem cool, but who uses out of date slang.

... the band has a problem with a sexist album cover.

... the director interviews the secondary member of the band about his collection of guitars/bikes. Exact quote: "do you ride/play all of these?" Negative answer in both cases. Interviewee fawns over his favorite.

... parody of real record label: Polymer (Polydor)/Intersound (Interscope).

... the band is plagued by a rival popular artist whose career is going swimmingly well.

... main band member has a girlfriend who shows up and tries to run things for the band. Her presence splits the main guys up. This is so precise a rip-off that in both films she arrives during a sound check before a concert, and her entrance is even filmed from the same angle in both films.

... after leaving the band, the secondary band member comes to check out a show, acts nonchalant, but ends up on stage as the band reconciles.

... band emerges from cocoon/coffin props on stage; the props malfunction and one of the band members can't get out.

.... band gets lost backstage at a show.

... and many more!

So, even with all of this obvious theft - and the above list is just off the top of my head - the movie absolutely fails because the lead actors have absolutely no charm or charisma whatsoever. There is no comedic timing in either the performances or the editing. Remakes of classic films are certainly nothing new, and recycling of old scripts have actually produced classics in the past - look at Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon" (1941): That movie was the third effort at shooting basically the same script, and the third time was definitely a charm. But in the case of "Gangsta Rap" the results of recycling are dismal, at best.

The one way in which "Spinal Tap" and "Gangsta Rap" differ is in the music. "Spinal Tap" had a dozen witty, clever, and well-played songs on the soundtrack, whereas "Gangsta Rap" only seems to have had one song, and it is played over and over and over.

The only people to whom I could recommend this film would be lawyers working for Rob Reiner.

Video

"Gangsta Rap" is less than one minute shorter than "This Is Spinal Tap", running at 1:20:58, divided into 16 scenes. The picture is clumsy, out of focus, lo-fi camera work, which appears to be the norm. It's presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen, the picture is anamorphic.

Audio

English is the only spoken language, and the only subtitles are English. The only audio option is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Audio quality is best described as murky, but perhaps the subtitles come in handy for translating the endless instances of 'muthafucka', 'bitch', and 'knowwhadimean?'

Extras

Think Film have included a music video, deleted scenes reel, a theatrical trailer and a series of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

Bonus features include "In My House Shoes" a music video which runs for 4 minutes 8 seconds.

A selection of deleted scenes runs for 6 minutes 17 seconds total : all scenes are edited together in a reel, not individually titled and not accessible separately.

The disc includes the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 55 seconds.

Bonus trailers include:

- "Poor Boy's Game" which runs for 2 minutes 1 second.
- "This Time Around" which runs for 2 minutes 17 seconds.
- "The Wendell Baker Story" which runs for 2 minutes 18 seconds.
- "Pigs" which runs for 1 minute 40 seconds.

Overall

The Film: F Video: C Audio: C Extras: C Overall: D-

 


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