CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story Review
On Monday, the TLC biopic CrazySexyCool finally premiered on VH1. And the giant question hanging over this project from the beginning has been “Can these three girls really pull off the chart-topping trio?”
I’m giving the girls, and subsequently the whole movie, a thumbs up.
I won’t give a synopsis of the story since TLC’s rise to fame has already been so thoroughly documented, however, it is clear that T-Boz and Chilli did their best to include significant depth that was previously unknown to most fans.
I think the most striking element of the movie was how fame was so quickly thrust upon these girls. At one moment they are at roller rinks, bumming for donations on the corner, and dancing backup. Then they are suddenly on the top of the charts. And they are so clearly unprepared for what awaits them.
And that really is the overall theme of the movie: the burden of fame.
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins
Drew Sidora gave the most underrated performance of the film. Since T-Boz has the most subdued personality, there weren’t many strong notes for her to play. The heart of her story was her battle with Sickle Cell Anemia and her struggle to keep the group together.
And Sidora delivered in those areas. She carried that cool confidence that T-Boz exudes, while becoming suddenly and subtly vulnerable.
Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas
Keke Palmer gave an admirable portrayal of Chilli. When it came to Chilli’s sweet, naive side, she was a perfect fit. She played the hopeless romantic well. Her problem, and this could have been a function of the script, was that her character had no balance. Chilli came off as so timid throughout that her two big moments (threatening a baby-mama and kicking Dallas Austin to the curb) seemed out of character and didn’t give that valid pay-off feeling.
Chilli’s enemy seemed to be her own self-worth and longing to be married with a child. After an abortion early on in their career, she had to stand by and watch others get what she wanted so badly. This could have been quite powerful except that Keke didn’t seem to bring the emotional maturity that this role needed. As much as I wanted to see her as Chilli, all I saw was Keke trying really hard.
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
The performance that everyone was looking out for was Niatia “Lil Mama” Kirkland as Left Eye. She had no prior acting experience and has been largely absent from the entertainment industry for years.
As such, she was the surprise of the film. She embodied Left Eye in a way I didn’t think possible. Though her performance started off a bit amateurish, you could see her acting chops grow over the course of the movie. And at every stage, she was believable. Perhaps it is because she has her own personal pain to pull from.
But all this good can’t come without some bad. Of course the film had its detractors. One of the biggest was one of the group’s original members Crystal Jones.
She claims that there are many inaccuracies in the film, including how she was played. She claims she can sing and her film alter ego had some obvious issues with pitch. She asserts that the real reason that she was kicked out of the group was because she wouldn’t sign the contract. Yet, when put on the spot to prove her pipes, she declined.
Still, the biggest loser in the film was Peri “Pebbles” Reid. She was a clear villain, contractually ripping off the group and crying crocodile tears whenever she was challenged about the money and contracts. Though not explicitly stated, it is heavily implied that her actions were intentional, malicious, and greedy.
Before the movie even saw the light of day, word leaked that she was planning on filing a lawsuit. Perhaps she knew what was to come wouldn’t be very flattering?
The bright side for her is a final second appearance at Left Eye’s funeral. It seemed to be a half attempt at redeeming her character, and in light of what is undisputed common knowledge, she should take that and be happy instead of continuing to try to sap these girls for funds.
Overall, the ones that deserve the most praise in this endeavor are T-Boz and Chilli. It must have been incredibly daunting to put their story out there and relive all of those tough moments. The decision-making about Left Eye’s story must have been especially perilous. And their hard work is returning dividends. Not only did it bring in 4.5 million viewers, it has also been widely praised by most. The hashtag #CrazySexyCool trended on Twitter for hours.
Now we need the group to capitalize on the movie’s success and their greatest hits album “Twenty“, and put out an album of new material. The Ne-Yo penned and produced “Meant To Be” brought back their unique sound, showing that nobody can do it like them (and no one else ever will). And the industry could use of dose of their trademark spunk.
Did you watch the biopic? Which actresses did you like or dislike? Should TLC record a new album? Sound off in the comments section below.
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