“Bodied” Review: This Joseph Kahn Directed Battle-Rap Movie is a Great Short Film Stretched into A Full Feature.


“Lyrical Miracles” are cheap. It seems that in this movie a lot of time was spent writing clever bars, and not enough time was spent writing a clever script. “Bodied” is an interesting, and at times very funny movie, but it has no idea what kind of message it wants to send. It's confusing message about PC culture overshadowed the plot of the film, which could have actually been a story worth telling.

Directed by Joseph Kahn, Bodied is the type of film we all say we want. An original film with an interesting story, that can be seen on the big screen. This movie checks all the desired boxes, but unfortunately reminds moviegoers why blockbusters are so successful. Those movies know what they are, and you know what you’re getting when you buy a ticket. Kahn's newest feature took risks that made it more interesting than a summer Hollywood movie, but failed to capitalize on those opportunities.

Bodied tells the story of a young, white college grad student named Adam(Calum Worthy) that starts out researching battle rap for his thesis, and takes it farther than research. Avoiding spoilers as much as possible suffice it to say the movie goes exactly where it's expected to go from the very beginning. This took chances in alot of places, but the plot was not one of them. For a movie this bold, one of the joys of watching it for the first time is just seeing where it will go. If it doesn't go anywhere new, that disappointment puts a damper on the whole experience. Watching Adam go through his arc was entertaining but ultimately I still care more about whether he got a hand job from Sara Pearson or not.

The real standout of this movie for me was Behn Grymm (Jackie Long), the highly ranked battle rapper that Adam aapoaches at the start of the movie for data on his thesis. His role was also fairly paint-by-numbers but his performance was the real heart of the film. His arc carried more weight and provided glimpses into what this movie could have been had it been more interested in telling a good story than social commentary.

That being said there were great moments in the movie where the director held up a mirror to “outrage culture” and demonstrated how ridiculous it can get. It has to be given credit for taking chances and going few places other movies would go. Joseph kahn is known for his interesting visuals in his music videos and this movie is certainly an extension of that. It took guts to have scott-pilgrim style speech bubbles pop up occasionally here, but it actually fit right into the world he built. Music videos are a very short by nature and the translation to full length may be a reason this feels bloated. The 121 minute runtime is heavy with unnecessary storylines and dull patches that seem as if they were padding.

There was plenty to roll your eyes about here, but this was clearly a passion project film. Many of the actors playing battle rappers in the film are actual seasoned battle rappers. That is probably a reason why the bars in this film are so entertaining to hear. It didn't hurt that this was produced by Eminem who’s talent and credibility helped make this possible.Clearly this was made with the support of the battle community, and that's the kind of substance missing from the types of movies that cost $200 Million to make. It took a years and big awards at TIFF, and Fantastic Fest to bring this to the big screen, and with that came big expectations. At the end of the day Bodied ended up being a disappointment only because it didn't deliver on the promise it offered. Either way, i’m certain this will be a cult classic for years to come

Rating: C+