By: Angie Haddock
The movie gets right into the grit of the story, showing flashbacks of Jay leaving her kids before we really even see where they are now. The first thing that struck me as “different than I pictured” was the ring, though… in that all the rap battles there are done a cappella, and not with beats behind them. A minor thing, for sure, and nothing to sweat.
As it went on I found that, in streamlining the story to fit into two hours, the movie cut out a whole slew of characters: Bri’s grandparents, and any of the scenes at church are gone. So is Curtis, the boy she befriends there. Malik and Trey’s girlfriends are also missing, and Bri and Malik become romantically involved instead.
This brings me to another major change: instead of cutting her first track with Pooh’s friend, movie Bri – along with Sonny and Malik – are all flown down to Atlanta on Supreme’s dime for her to record. This section, around the middle of the movie, gets a little more “Pretty Woman” than anything we saw in the book. Supreme gets Bri new clothes, everyone goes clubbing. This is where Bri and Malik become involved, and also where Milez and Sonny become involved. (In the book, they met online first, and Sonny didn’t know it was Milez.) So this section brings some of the biggest deviations from the book.
Plenty of other important plot points remain the same, though, and overall the movie was pretty good. I liked the casting. Bri seemed almost too innocent, but that worked toward the end when her mom was trying to make a point to the school board that she was “still a kid.” It felt right to have the likes of Sanaa Lathan, Mike Epps, and Method Man as the grown-ups in the movie. I wasn’t familiar with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who played Aunt Pooh, but she was perfect. (Looks like she’s a Broadway vet.)
This one is streaming on Paramount+, if you are interested in watching it.