Feel the Noise
2007, PG-13, 86 min. Directed by Alejandro Chomski. Starring Omarion Grandberry, Zulay Henao, James McCaffrey, Kellita Smith, Malik Yoba, Melonie Diaz, Victor Rasuk, Giancarlo Esposito.
REVIEWED By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Oct. 12, 2007
It’s hard to fault a screenwriter for cramming every idea he’s ever had about anything into his first movie for fear there won’t be a second. Albert Leon does just that with his first picture, Feel the Noise, which follows an aspiring young rapper from Harlem named Rob (former boy-band star Grandberry), who has to move to Puerto Rico after awakening the wrath of a local thug. While there, he encounters a music genre known as reggaeton – a mix of dancehall, merengue, and hip-hop famous around the world for its hypnotic beats, sparse melodies, and girls in midriff-bearing shirts – and decides this new sound could be his golden ticket to stardom. If Leon had stopped there, Feel the Noise would have been a harmless parable about the value of believing in yourself and a shameless advertisement for Puerto Rican pop culture: nothing to write home about but nothing to scratch your head at either. Instead he clutters his film with enough subplots, secondary characters, psychological traumas, physical altercations, life lessons, and social commentaries to confuse Tolstoy and then blithely tosses them into a blender and hopes the mixture makes sense onscreen. It’s then left to poor Grandberry to make sense of the mess, which would be too much to ask of Anthony Hopkins, much less the former lead singer of B2K. His Rob has to go to jail; learn to rap; win the love of a beautiful Puerto Rican dancer (Henao), whose hips move in ways I didn’t realize were possible; run afoul of a sociopath; master another culture’s music; catch the ear of a New York record executive; stand up to an entire gang of toughs; reconcile with his estranged father; learn that artistic integrity is more important than financial success; learn that being in love is better than being alone; learn that both are preferable to getting shot to death; and do it all in 86 minutes. And to think it took Jim Caviezel a full two hours just to save the world.