Fantasia 2018: Bodied

Calum Worthy and Jackie Long in Bodied. Courtesy of Fantasia 2018.

Joseph Kahn’s Bodied, holding its Quebec premiere during Fantasia 2018, is a satire that takes us inside the underground culture of battle rap.

Adam Merkin (Calum Worthy) finds himself deeply embedded into the world of battle rapping while researching for a thesis paper.  This only happens after a chance encounter with Behn Grymm (Jackie Long).  Unfortunately for him, this takes a toll on his own personal relationships. This includes his tenured father (Anthony Michael Hall) and Adam’s girlfriend, Maya (Rory Uphold).

Adam’s own experience as he gets to know people within this competitive round isn’t without controversy.  Grymm teaches the grad student that it is perfectly okay to use slurs about people of color.  In what world?  Satire or not, this is never okay.  Yet that’s what this world is about.  To what extent will someone go to insult someone just for pure shock value?  That these people have an audience watching and willing to laugh at the insults is perplexing to say the least.

Even when he is in the administrative offices, Adam has the guts to use the slur in front of Dean Hampton (Debra Wilson).  Adam’s obsession with battle rap ultimately gets him expelled from grad school.  At what point will Adam come to understand that he’s hurting people who care about him?  It takes a lot of learning but Adam realizes “the best version” of himself is who he was before diving into this obsession of his.  The question is whether his mistakes will lead to getting back together with his girlfriend.

In casting the film, they bring a sense of authenticity in capturing the battle rap world.  This includes the likes of battle rappers such as Dizaster and Dumbfoundead.  The script even comes from a veteran of the scene, Alex Larsen.

The cast of this film includes Charlamagne.  Without going on a long-winded rant, he was embroiled in a major controversy just about a year ago–one that took several days to apologize for.  Here he is taking on the role of the gatekeeper, Hunnid Gramz, in setting these matches.

Maybe it’s because of the values that I grew up with but simply put, Bodied just was not my cup of tea.  I would let all the swearing slide if it weren’t for an infinite amount of vulgar slurs.  I get the idea that they are trying to capture this particular underground culture but I couldn’t stop cringing because of my cultural sensitivities.  To each their own, I guess.

DIRECTOR:  Joseph Kahn
CAST:  Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Rory Uphold, Dumbfoundead, Walter Perez, Shoniqua Shandai, Charlamagne, Dizaster, Hollow da Don, Loaded Lux, Debra Wilson, Anthony Michael Hall

Bodied was an official selection of the 2018 Fantasia International Film Festival.  YouTube Red will release Bodied in 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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