Straight Outta Compton
The story of the rise and sort-of fall (but mostly rise) of N.W.A., an L.A. rap supergroup once so despised by law enforcement officials for their “Fuck Tha Police” rallying cry that they wound up on an FBI watch list, gets the lavish Hollywood biopic treatment in F. Gary Gray's entertaining Straight Outta Compton. All of the N.W.A. members are cast with uncanny lookalikes—Ice Cube is even played by his own son, O'Shea Jackson Jr.—but Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E and Paul Giamatti as his manipulative manager, Jerry Heller, give the only fully realized performances in the film. In many respects, Eazy-E is the only tragic figure in the N.W.A. story, since the rest of the main players are alive, crazy-rich and produced this movie. A few electrifying moments aside, this skillfully made but painfully skin-deep film feels like a winners' history of the gangsta rap glory days. D.B.