The new film Patti Cake$ starring Danielle MacDonald could easily be called the ever popular hollywood gender swap version of Eminem’s 8 Mile. There are some similar beats in this zero to hip hop hero story with Patti AKA Killa P living the poor life in New Jersey with her waste of space mother, but the film remixes the same tracks to give the audience a fresh take on the unassuming rap star in the making. Add in a funky original soundtrack and you get a down and dirty coming of age story about defying stereotypes to fulfill your dreams.

Danielle MacDonald shines as the Jersey Girl with big dreams of rap super stardom. Director Geremy Jasper and MacDonald gives us a character who feels so real with her frizzy hair, sloppy wardrobe and her screwed up family life. The last thing you would ever think about Patti is battle rap star, but you end up rooting for this unlikely hero after her quest is littered with roadblocks meant to break her spirit.  One thing is for certain and that is MacDonald owns the screen as she spits rhymes and shows the boys anything they can do, she can do better. If MacDonald couldn’t make the rap sound real, Patti Cake$ wouldn’t have worked with the audience not buying into the cash strapped hero. Luckily the girl morphs into a Rap Goddess throughout the film and shows off some serious battle rap skills.

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The rest of the cast surrounding Danielle MacDonald are authentic and excellent as well in Patti Cake$. A group of skilled actors bringing intriguing individuals to life in your character studies are essential and this film has no shortage of talent. Former Youtube rapper Siddharth Dhananjay plays Patti’s loyal friend and collaborator Jheri who can also fire off some fly lyrics and is continuously a positive force in Patti’s life. Cathy Moriatrty (Raging Bull) is unrecognizable as the salty, but sweet Nana who rounds out the rap group along with Mamoudou Athie who plays a complete wierdo with a knack for producing. This foursome creates magic behind the mic as PBNJ, but the real star of the supporting cast is Bridget Everett as Patti’s troubled mother Barb who serves as a tough lesson as to what happens when you chase a silly dream. Everett comes across as the villain over the course of the film with her black hole attitude, yet you still pity her at times just like Patti does. There are some signs of good in her, but life has beat her down so much she doesn’t know how to interact with others in a positive light. 

Patti Cake$ is one of the better projects to come out involving the hip hop world even if the film falls into some familiar rags to riches clichés. Danielle MacDonald delivers a star making performance with a gritty and often sad role that still manages to find some light at the end of the tunnel for Killa P. The film is enjoyable whether you’re a fan of the music genre or not with its catchy rhymes and tunes that make up the film’s impressive original soundtrack. Patti Cake$ is a movie for dreamers and is a classic underdog story that will have you rooting for the most unlikely MC to grab the mic in Jersey.

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Overall, I give Patti Cake$ 3 out of 4 stars.

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