A Bit Old Hat



ATL (2006) Review 5
Director:Chris Robinson,
Starring:Big Boi, Bone Crusher, Keith David, Albert Daniels, Lauren London, and Jackie Long
Length:105 minutes


Having only been in Atlanta’s airport, I wouldn’t know that roller skating was a major component of the social life of black teenagers in the first half of the current decade. I’m not particularly sure whether many people outside the Atlanta area know it either, but, perhaps, roller rinks are going to make a comeback.

Within the cultural milieu that is the Irontown neighborhood of the ATL, as they call it, what we’ve got is an extremely typical working class coming of age story. We’ve seen this before, again and again and again.

Rashad (Tip Harris) is a high school senior living with his Uncle George (Mykelti Williamson) and brother Ant (Evan Ross) in what was his deceased parent’s apartment. Rashad is honest and upstanding, but he’s not humble. He hangs out with his pals Esquire (Ackie Long), Teddy (Jason Weaver) and Brooklyn (Albert Daniels) and they like to hang out at the Cascade rink on Sunday nights. This is where they do their moves and forget their circumstances.

One of the themes of the film is slumming. Esquire is gate crashing his way upward, by using the address of a ritzy golf club he works at in order to get into a ritzy school in the best neighborhood within the city limits. New New (Lauren London) is doing it in the opposite direction, going all the way across town from that same neighborhood to Irontown in order to look “ghetto fabulous” at the Cascade and hang out with the other half.

Meanwhile, Rashad’s brother Ant decides to become upwardly mobile by selling drugs. This kind of thing is a necessary element of an urban drama.

Also, Esquire and New New’s duplicity has to be found out and her rich father (Keith David), who knows Esquire has to first act like an ass then repent–a simple, almost infantile, morality tale.

“ATL” isn’t bad by any means. The acting is fine, so is the direction, and the dance sequences are really fun to watch. This is kind of film that sends all the politically correct signals to its target audience, and does it rather well. If you’re too young to remember the last time around, almost nothing is old hat.