A Day in the Life Review

I’m not a fan of rap. I’ll start there. I appreciate some of the beats and the coordination between the music and the words. I appreciate the craft and the poetic touches it takes to achieve rhymes in places that most people could never squeeze one in. I appreciate the attitude and the energy. But that said, I’m not a fan of rap. Here is of list of things that I don’t appreciate: the money grabbing, the arrogance, the women (those poor women), the cheesy lyrics, the constant cursing, the shameless materialism. I’m sure there are plenty of rappers who aren’t all about the cheap tricks and quick bucks, but many are.

For a non-fan, rap music videos are a blessing for two reasons. One is that they end in about three minutes. So even if you’re looking to see your favorite Three Doors Down video (which I hope you’re not), you only have to sit through three minutes. The second reason is that they play on network television, so it keeps the bleeps and the obscenities to a minimum. Three minutes is bad enough. Now picture a 90-minute movie, where there are no restrictions as far as the bleeps and the obscenities go. A Day in the Life is a feature-length film, shot in music video style, with a beat carrying throughout the film and with every single actor rapping every single line of dialogue. All of their lines rhyme. It’s a hood musical. If one asks another a question, the answer matches the tempo of the first line, and ends with a rhyme. Now tell me, do you have the time? For a rap lover, it could be sublime. For a girl like me, it went on endlessly. Just when I thought it would stop, it was back on with the hip-hop. OK, I’m done.

There’s a name for this kind of movie. They call it the “Hip Hopera.” At first I thought this little nickname was kind of catchy. How bad could it be? Bad. In the first 20 minutes of the movie, there were at least 15 fatalities. All with ketchup popping gunshots. The bangs of the gun were even in time with the pulsing rhythm. Wickie wickie bang bang. Wickie wickie bang bang. It was so violent, it became comical. It was like Shakespeare in the hood.

The story follows two rival gangs; although it's more like mob families, as they have a semi-mob boss and some of them are actually related. Not to mention their swanky houses with infinity pools and city views. Sticky Fingaz, stars as Stick and produced A Day in the Life, contributing to the music. He gets involved with the brewing war after his cousin, Phya (Fredro Starr, who plays a similar role in Save the Last Dance as the bullet slinging Malakai), gets shot. Of course, before he is rushed to the hospital he finishes his offender off with the timed shots I mentioned earlier. Stick has recently become involved with a girl, Heaven (Melinda Santiago), and goes to his friend O (Omar Epps) for advice on whether or not to do as the girl says and stay out of it, or to fire back. Omar Epps by the way, whose previous credits include Love and Basketball and House M.D., is surprisingly one of the better rappers in the whole film.

Most of the actors look uncomfortable, like they may burst into laughter at any minute. I was laughing the whole time, so I understood how they felt. Poor actors. The police get involved after becoming aware of the plethora of murders and some of the vanilla looking officers had trouble keeping the beat. Namely, Michael Rapaport, who plays Detective Grant. He was also a detective in his small role on the show Friends as Phoebe’s boyfriend. Thankfully he didn’t rap for that role.

The movie was just an endless array of flashy camera and flashier guns and jewelry. It was shot after shot of shot after shot. The whole film was a glorified music video and an excuse to show ladies in hot tubs and gratuitous gun shot wounds. No wonder it didn’t have a theatrical release.

DVD Bonus Features

All the film has to offer in the way of extra features is a Sticky Fingaz music video, which is basically more of the same. All it did was serve as a reminder that rap is better left to a three-minute video, versus a 90-minute movie. It also had a “making of” section, which was actually rather nice because we finally get to hear Fingaz and others speak normally and without a beat that becomes obnoxious after the first 10 minutes.

"A Day in the Life" is on sale July 7, 2009 and is rated R. Action, Musical. Written and directed by Sticky Fingaz. Starring Faizon Love, Fredro Starr, Mekhi Phifer, Melinda Santiago, Michael Rapaport, Omar Epps, Sticky Fingaz.

Erin Burris

Erin is not buff, she’s quite gangly really—but she is a major film buff.  She writes movie reviews because, second to film, her passion is writing.  With a background in writing and cinema studies, she sees film in three ways: as a scholar with an eye for reviewing, as a total film geek and as you see movies.


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