Pimps have been clownified (à la Huggy Bear) or lionized (see Ice-T, Jay-Z, etc.) for so long, they’re not even a good Halloween costume anymore. So it’s refreshing to watch Terence Howard’s simmering performance in Hustle & Flow, wherein he presents pimp/hip-hop hopeful DJay as frustrated and bored by the sex trade. Though writer-director Craig Brewer veers here and there into overly scripted, crowd-pleasing moments (like when one of DJay’s ho’s finds meaning when asked to provide backup vocals), he manages to make a human out of 50 Cent. EXTRAS A reason to be even more impressed by Howard’s transformation: A ”Behind the Hustle” featurette outs him as a Kenny Rogers fan in real life. Brewer says in his commentary that he was looking to undercut the ”pageantry of a pimp” and cites William Eggleston, Antonioni, Rocky, Amadeus, Purple Rain, and Taxi Driver as influences (plus, they’re all good pimp names).

Hustle & Flow
  • Movie
  • 114 minutes