As expected, the soundtrack is the highlight of "Idlewild," the long-delayed movie musical debut for Grammy-winning hip-hop/R&B act OutKast. Unfortunately, the film's rather thin plot keeps getting in the way of the music.
In fact, there are several key stretches of the movie that are music-less. Needless to say, they are dry and dull, like much of the film itself. Which would be excusable if this material were anything new, instead of the sort of thing that has already been done repeatedly in films ever since 1984's "The Cotton Club."
OutKast frontmen Andre Benjamin and Antwan A. Patton star in this '30s-era period piece as childhood friends Percival and Rooster, who both perform at the Church, a nightclub that's just had a change in ownership.
Both the club owner (Faizon Love) and Rooster's gangster uncle (Ving Rhames) were recently shot by their one-time business associate, Trumpy (Terrence Howard). He's placed Rooster in charge but is, financially speaking, bleeding him dry.
But Percival has troubles of his own. His mortician father (Ben Vereen) doesn't approve of his musical moonlighting, and he's smitten with the club's demanding new singer (newcomer Paula Patton).
Among the film's bigger problems is the direction, courtesy of Bryan Barber, who has made most of OutKast's music videos. "Idlewild" is heavy on slo-mo and other camera gimmicks, none of which really adds much to the film.
Also, several transitional scenes appear to be missing (the film was reportedly trimmed back at the studio's behest).
Aside from the musical numbers, the one real plus is Howard's lively villain, though Benjamin also has some presence. "Big Boi" Patton, however, seems muted.
Worse, the film has Tony-winner Vereen in its cast but doesn't let him show off his formidable singing and dancing skills.
Movie Review by Jeff Vice