Purple Rain? Lotsa fun—and still to this day a housequake. Under the Cherry Moon? Not so much fun. Idlewild, OutKast’s visually sumptuous, self-indulgent musical is, if you can wrap your head around the idea, both Prince films in a single, excruciating sitting. Now perhaps you’re the kind of person (such as one TONY music writer who shall remain nameless) who squeals “Awesome!” at that prospect; then you’ll have only yourself to blame for what amounts to an ultraboring two-hour music video, directed on gimmicky autopilot by the stylist behind the “Hey Ya!” clip.
Set in a luxe, fantasy 1935 Georgia devoid of white folk, Idlewild runs its tired dual narratives through the prism of the band’s ill-defined screen personae: Andr Benjamin, the jazzier of the two, plays Percival, a gifted but shy pianist who yearns for the love of new nightclub arrival Angel (Paula Patton) but suffers under the glower of his mortuary-owning dad. (Maybe he’s just like his fa-ther, too bold.) Big Boi handles the movie’s hyperreal action scenes as philandering club owner Rooster, who neglects his family while feuding with the menacing Trumpy (Hustle & Flow’s Howard, better than anyone or anything else in the film).
Okay, so the duo isn’t going to win any Golden Globes. Otherwise, they would have picked a director more interested in coaching performance than flipping the camera around bedposts. Idlewild is really about the music, and OutKast’s squiggly, dense sounds—many of these tunes are quite good—deserve a more inspired context. Please don’t break up, guys. Just avoid Hollywood. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf