Who's in It:
Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson, Martin Sheen
The Basics: Petey Greene was a '60s-era radio deejay and African-American community leader in Washington, D.C. He was an early "tell it like it is" guy, and he inspired a lot of people during the Civil Rights movement. This is the story of his life and career that, like this movie, mixed a lot of boundary-pushing humor and earnest activism. In other words, it's the kind of thing that you beg Cheadle to star in.
What's the Deal? In the future, everyone will have their own biopic. That doesn't mean that Greene doesn't deserve it. It's just that there are so darn many of them these days that you wonder when they'll run out of inspirational people. And like most biopics, it sometimes suffers from the "highlight reel" problem, where the makers want to cram in everything, good and bad, without getting bogged down.
What Gets It Over: Cheadle. When the script threatens to become trite, he raises the bar. He takes all the moral righteousness of his characters in Crash and Hotel Rwanda and loosens it up with a more down-and-dirty approach, one that allows for the idea that even an ex-con street hustler can inspire people. Anyone else in this role, and it could have turned into an excuse for people to have a good time chuckling at giant afro wigs and velvet suits.
Pedigree: Directed by Kasi Lemmons, who made the eerily great Eve's Bayou and the excellently weird The Caveman's Valentine. I like her sensibility, and you can see it here even under the constraints of this genre. (trivia: Her husband, Vondie Curtis Hall, who appears here in a small role, directed the 100 percent-crazy Mariah Carey movie Glitter.)
Anti-Subtlety '07 Award To: Henson as Green's girlfriend. She's loud and wild, something I always find entertaining. But I bet her forcefulness divides audiences. Just a guess.