Advertisement
Movies

Review: Words fly in ‘Bodied,’ Joseph Kahn’s provocative and entertaining ode to battle rap

(L-R) - Calum Worthy and Jackie Long in a scene from the movie “Bodied.” Credit: Neon
Calum Worthy, left, and Jackie Long in the movie “Bodied.”
(Neon)

Pound for pound, you’d be hard pressed to find a more purely entertaining movie this fall than Joseph Kahn’s gleeful love letter to battle rap, “Bodied.” Props are due to writer Alex Larsen, a.k.a. Kid Twist, a Canadian battle rapper whose life story loosely inspires the tale of Adam (Calum Worthy), an aggressively woke white Berkeley student who enters the battle-rap scene by way of his thesis on the use of the N-word. It’s participant observation — an intense form of data collection — with the self-styled ethnographer falling down the rabbit hole and emerging completely changed.

Larsen’s script is a blistering deconstruction of identity politics that may leave your head spinning. Adam, the son of a lit professor (Anthony Michael Hall) and cowed by his militantly feminist vegan girlfriend (Rory Uphold), finds freedom of expression when the politically correct gloves come off.

But is there a limit? How do systems of power work in a battle where a rapper, with the goal of roasting an opponent to a crisp, only has appearances and assumptions to work with?

Kahn applies his maximalist style, using text and animation to bring a visual spark to the lyrical flow. From crisp academic arguments to sick burns, words spew, stutter, and startle, and as delivered by a totally committed Worthy, a soulful Jackie Long, and a posse of actors and rappers from the scene, the wordplay is dizzying, mesmerizing and intoxicating.

Advertisement

-------------

‘Bodied’

Rated: R, for strong language and sexual content throughout, some drug use and brief nudity

Running time: 2 hours

Playing: Starts Nov. 2, AMC Burbank; also available on YouTube Premium Nov. 28

Advertisement

------------

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »

Movie Trailers

calendar@latimes.com

@LATimesMovies


Newsletter
Get our weekly Indie Focus newsletter
Advertisement