YouTube Premium film review: Bodied
Andrew Jones | On 28, Nov 2018
Director: Joseph Kahn
Cast: Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Rory Uphold, Shoniqua Shandai
Watch Bodied online in the UK: YouTube Premium / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Joseph Kahn directed Torque,
But listen, you should give a fork
about his new joint, Bodied, a satire about
a white kid with rap battle clout,
who finds his life turned upside down.
Adam (Calum Worthy) sends shockwaves across the town,
discovers his powers and puts them to use,
as the film examines what constitutes abuse
of society’s language and racial divide,
where cultures clash, and people hurt pride;
the power of words and meanings behind them,
when you say what you want just to spite them.
It’s gritty and on-the-nose and full of glee –
the visuals, dialogue, it’s insanity
– and full of laughs and gasps, but the lines
leave you thinking long after time
is up and the film’s gone and done
said its piece. Even with its fun,
you introspect and examine what
worked for you, and what did not
and what it says about the world
at large: actions that should be held
up to scrutiny, people doing wrong
by taking over culture, like Fay Ray vs. King Kong.
Kahn’s made two films before –
Torque and Detention deserved more
love and attention. They both were fun,
light sprinkles of crazy action
with thoughtful pressings of humanity
amidst all the gloss, you see
Kahn takes a moment and explores it;
in Torque he hit nitro and he floored it,
deconstructing Fast and Furious
when it still meant little more to us
than silly boys in silly cars
and sun-drenched girls showing off their bras.
To survive, he’s made a career
directing music videos. From there to here,
his visuals always float and fly
and bring joy to the audience’s eye,
yet the style would be nothing without
that depth, that substance he brings about.
He’s a smart man, knowing what’s important is
a point, a theme and a serious script.
With Bodied, he steps it up a gear,
diving deep into the problems that you fear
of people that take from many
so that they can count a penny,
who appropriate what is not theirs
for money, audience, likes and shares.
Kahn and writer Alex Larsen
bring us into the story with statistic cards on
the screen to make us feel like
an audience watching a PPV fight,
but really it’s the perspective of
Adam, our hero, kind of
a rap battle nerd, who’s writing a dissertation
on the use of, or mis-use
of language among cultures, like
asking if the N-word is ever alright.
When pushed back by many folks,
he comes out swinging with some dope
rhymes and schemes and swears and memes
– he’s got a killer mouth, it seems –
and soon enough, he’s taken under
the wing of musician Behn Grymm (Jackie Long).
Behn opens the world up to him,
but Adam takes more than his share,
as he becomes a big deal there.
Bodied is best when rap battles are fought
but in between is where real lessons get taught;
the pain and anguish and idiocy
of using language to hurt you or me
or anyone for the sake of fun –
when words are spoke, they affect someone.
The line is drawn deep in the sand
and Bodied helps lend a hand
to the exploration of the power you reap
when you choose to, or accidentally speak,
certain phrases, terms, in full view
of others who aren’t like you.
And whether for entertainment or intent,
it shows that it’s evident
people need to stop and bury
some words in their vocabulary.
But Bodied is more than just this,
or, at least, there are things that are easy to miss.
It’s funny, hilarious even,
the visuals are a trip, the pacing
fast, and the final event
an ultimate showdown – you’ll be glad you went
to YouTube to watch Bodied, a film like none before,
a comedy that kicks you through the door
of life’s rich pageant and, with its provocative refrain,
offers a feast for your eyes, yours ears and brain.
Bodied is available on YouTube Premium, as part of an £11.99 monthly subscription – including YouTube Premium Originals and YouTube Music, as well as the rest of YouTube advert-free.