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From the Vaults: Snoop Loop

By Marjorie Baumgarten, March 15, 2013, 7:05pm, Picture in Picture

In the film Reincarnated, Snoop Dogg takes us on his personal odyssey, which results in the Dogg evolving into the Lion. It's a journey with coordinates that home in on the island of Jamaica and a musical sound that shifts gears toward reggae rhythms from harder-edged rap. The documentary played during SXSW Film, and opened today at the Violet Crown Cinema.

Though this documentary (for which Snoop is one of the producers) seems more like an EPK for the identically titled album due out next month than an objective biographical study, Reincarnated is not without its pleasures. Chief among them is Snoop Lion, whose easygoing, what-the-shizzle vibe is contagious (or is that a contact high?) and makes him an agreeable onscreen presence.

Countless music videos and TV appearances have demonstrated Snoop's popular appeal – a likability whose starting point is his blunt honesty about his, ummm, blunts … or should that now read ganja? Still, would you want this man piloting your aircraft as he did in the film Soul Plane? Even before Denzel Washington made flying high semiheroic in last fall's Flight, we knew that Snoop Dogg was not the person we wanted steering our red-eye (even though his own peepers were a complementary color).

In addition to Reincarnated and Soul Plane, here are some links to some film performances by Snoop Dogg that have been noted in our Film Review Archives. In John Singleton's 2001 study of black manhood, Baby Boy, the musician-turned-actor Snoop plays a supporting role. Another supporting role in Antoine Fuqua's Training Day had our reviewer Marc Savlov saying this: "High marks go [to] rapper/porn-maestro Snoop Dogg, whose cameo as a wheechair-bound ’banger rivals Samuel Jackson's riveting turn as Gator in Jungle Fever for sheer “who knew?” surprise."

2001 continued with Ernest Dickerson's horror film Bones, which starred Snoop Dogg, whose performance "makes the film," according to Savlov's review. "His restless, gut-chomping superpimp-from-hell is a great character and Dogg swaggers through the film in a floor-length, fur-collared outfit that would put Huggy Bear to shame. With his smooth-as-smoke voice and street-strutting panache, Dogg has the makings of a genuinely great actor. When he's on screen the film crackles." Also in 2011 came The Wash, a knockoff of the 1976 hit Car Wash, in which reviewer Russell Smith noted that the "cannabiphilic rappers Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, both [seemed] to have been partaking heavily on the set."

Cameos in the comedies Malibu's Most Wanted, The Real Cancun (performance only), and Pauly Shore Is Dead, led to his actual casting as Huggy Bear in Todd Phillips' film remake of the TV show, Starsky & Hutch. Three lines of vocal work in the movie Racing Stripes were followed by vocal work in Luc Besson's Arthur and the Invisibles. Snoop Dogg's pet project Hood of Horror never opened theatrically in Austin, but it did play at the 2006 Austin Film Festival.

So, if you're not ready to roar with the Lion, you can catch your fill of the old Dogg onscreen. The man may be reincarnated but the movies will always preserve moments just as they were.

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