Directed by Michael Schultz
Produced by Michael Schultz/George Jackson/Russell Simmons
Written by Ralph Farquhar
Cinematography by Ernest Dickerson
Edited by Jerry Bixman/Conrad M. Gonzalez
Music by David Lombard
Those of you who have been following my reviews for a while now (and Thank You! for that) have heard me say this before so I ask you to bear with me while I state this for the newbies. Here we go: A large part of why I love movies is that they can provide us with an impression of certain times in American culture and history. Impressions that you can’t get from history books or even from documentaries because those movies were made at that time that that culture was prevalent and so has an energy and drive that can’t help but come right at you through the screen.
Which brings us to KRUSH GROOVE. Yes, it was a movie made to capitalize on the popularity of many of the rap artists at that time: Run-DMC, The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, Beastie Boys and LL Cool J. But we also get to see kick-ass musical performances by Sheila E., New Edition and Nayobe among others. KRUSH GROOVE is supposedly based on the beginnings of Def Jam Records but take my advice and forget all about that as most of those who participated in the movie have since admitted that the movie has very little to do with the truth of how Def Jam Records was formed.
No, you watch KRUSH GROOVE to see a whole truckload of rap musical artists in their prime just having a good time being in a movie. And there’s a whole lot of people in this movie that are a lot better at acting than you would think. Sheila E. (Sheila Escovedo) in particular is a way better actress than one might think. She’s especially adept in a comedic scene where she’s having fun rapping with Run (Joseph Simmons) because she thinks it doesn’t take any special skill to rap. And she takes over the movie when she performs “A Love Bizarre” and “Holly Rock.” The influence of Prince in these performances is no surprise to those of us who know the professional and personal history between those two. And can you really pass up a movie where Kurtis Blow is not only the Voice of Reason but a moral compass for many of the movie’s characters?
I think it was a smart move on the part of director Michael Schultz to let the actor, Blair Underwood, playing a heavily fictionalized version of Russell Simmons act while letting the musical artists do what they do best, which is music. Blair Underwood works the B-plot which has him borrowing money from a shady character and trying to keep his record company out of the grimy hands of those shady characters. We have that drama to provide us with a loose plot to hang the movie and fill up time between the performances of the artists.
And they’re fun performances as well. This is the movie that has the classic Fat Boys “All You Can Eat” sequence. New Edition tears it up with “My Secret” as they compete in a talent contest judged by Kurtis Blow. And for me, the funniest scene in the movie is when LL Cool J bumrushes the Krush Groove offices to perform “I Can’t Live Without My Radio.” Trust me when I say that you have never heard anybody in any movie deliver a one-word line the way LL Cool J does.
This is the movie that started The Fat Boys on their career as The Clown Princes of Rap and trust me when I say that they will have you cracking up every time they’re on screen. And it’s because they are genuinely funny. It’s not just because they’re fat is where their humor comes from. You can feel that they like each other and what they do. It’s something that’s not faked and it is so much fun to watch.
My suggestion for this weekend? You find yourself not having any plans on a Friday or Saturday night? Then get some snacks, some friends, the drinks of your choice and have a double feature of “Breakin'” and KRUSH GROOVE. For me, the sheer energy and fun of the cast makes up for any shortcomings. And to be honest, when I’m watching KRUSH GROOVE I enjoy it so much I don’t even notice whatever shortcomings it has. Enjoy.