DJ Petey Greene spins from beyond—and in—the grave

Talk To Me

on July 13, 2007 by Annlee Ellingson
Set against the turbulent backdrop of 1960s Washington, D.C., this biopic stars Don Cheadle as Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, an ex-con who hustles a job hosting the morning drive at a white-owned radio station. Spinning soul and running off at the mouth, Petey emerges as an icon of the era, smooth-talking his brothers and sisters through such civil rights crises as the assassination of Martin Luther King while battling his own demons of substance abuse and infidelity. Managed by producer Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who harbors his own entertainment aspirations but lacks his charge's raw talent, Petey ultimately eschews public life rather than get in bed with the Man.

Although topical—Petey and his allies experience the same objections from first the station manager and then the FCC that shock jocks do today— Talk to Me suffers from the very qualities it rails against: Whereas Petey was an original raconteur, the dialogue here is predictable and cliche. (“Quit trying to change me,” Petey actually says.) And whereas his is a strong voice for racial dignity, his girlfriend Verenll (Taraji P. Henson) is portrayed as the worst kind of clown.

Petey Greene died at age 53 from cancer; 8,000 people attended his funeral. He deserves better than this poorly executed tribute.
Distributor: Focus
Cast: Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson, Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps and Martin Sheen
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Screenwriters: Michael Genet and Rick Famuyiwa
Producers: Joe Fries, Mark Gordon, Sidney Kimmel and Josh McLaughlin
Genre: Biographical drama
Rating: R for pervasive language and some sexual content
Running time: 118 min.
Release date: July 13, 2007 ltd
Tags: No Tags

read all Reviews »


No comments were posted.

What do you think?