This is how they “do it in ‘The Rico’”?
Omarion Grandberry’s aspiring rapper in Feel the Noise has a name (Rob), but the filmmakers don’t bother to cover up the tank-top-favoring former B2K frontman’s trademark tattoo—an ostentatious O wearing a crown—making it hard to tell where the uninspired actor ends and the uncommunicative character begins.
Granted, Grandberry is saddled with a miserable script from first-timer Albert Leon full of scenes in which characters mumble a couple of clichés and then wait around awkwardly for someone to call out “cut.” Director Alejandro Chomski tries to fill the dead space in between with songs from the soundtrack to this first release from Sony BMG Film—an offshoot of Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
The story, or as much of it as you can make out between tracks, is Hollywood Hack 101: When the streets of Harlem become too dangerous for Rob after he boosts the rims of a neighborhood gangster, he heads to Puerto Rico to meet the father (Giancarlo Esposito) he never met.
“I don’t even know that dude,” Rob protests to his no-nonsense mother. (It’s one of his more eloquent lines in the entire film.)
But once in “The Rico,” as he calls it, Rob finds the musical inspiration he was missing in the form of the Reggaeton beats laid down by his stepbrother Javi (Victor Rasuk)—despite the fact that Rob speaks no Spanish at all.
There’s also a spirited dancer (Zulay Henao) to romance, a slimy record producer (James McCaffrey) to resist and a real-life Reggaeton star (Julio Voltio Ramos) to rescue Rob and Javi from an ill-advised trip to New York to cut a studio album.
Although Grandberry’s first film, You Got Served, opened at number one, audience response to this one will likely resemble Rob’s reaction to the evil record producer’s attempts to “improve” his music: “I’m not feelin’ this.” —Feel the Noise *1/2
A rapper tunes in to Reggaeton, but audiences are likely to tune out
Distributor: Sony BMG
Cast: Omarion Grandberry, Victor Rasuk, Zulay Henao, Giancarlo Esposito, James McCaffrey, Kellita Smith, Rosa Arredondo and Julio Voltio Ramos
Director: Alejandro Chomski
Screenwriters: Albert Leon
Producers: Jennifer Lopez, Simon Fields and Sofia Sondervan
Rating: PG-13 for sensuality and innuendos, violence, some drug use and language
Running time: 87 min.
Release date: October 5, 2007