Battle rap film ‘Bodied’ dunks on, well, everyone

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Fantastic Fest

Director Joseph Kahn’s “Bodied” is angry. It’s angry at its characters, its audience, politicians and the culture in general. It’s also legitimately hilarious, and one of the best satires in recent memory.

Former Disney Channel star Calum Worthy plays Adam, a scrawny white college kid working on his dissertation about the use of the n-word in battle rap. For research, he takes his girlfriend Maya (Rory Uphold) to see his favorite battle rapper, Behn Grymm (Jackie Long). After a short conversation and demonstration of his own skills, Grymm convinces Adam to try battle rap himself, something he hadn’t considered in his wildest dreams.

Joseph Kahn uses the kinetic directing style he employs in his Taylor Swift music videos and the viral short film “Power/Rangers,” including digital illustrations of some of the rappers’ more intricate wordplay. The sense of energy he imbues into the film ties directly into the heart of its characters, selfish but talented individuals with a ton of bad blood between them.

Each character in “Bodied” is deeply flawed. Each a representation of a certain people group, they frequently embody Kahn’s perceptions of the worst in said people group. Worthy’s Adam is the film’s largest example of this, demonstrating the variety of ways white men profit on the work of others yet dismiss anyone who calls them out on this. His redeeming qualities are essentially a blank space, but that isn’t to say Kahn fully endorses anyone else, criticizing white guilt, white feminism, liberal bubbles, the misogyny of rap and much, much more. Even as Adam believes he excuses himself from the consequences of appropriation, he’s never out of the woods, with another obstacle just around the corner.

Between the socially conscious anger of the hilarious script and the fun, energetic direction, “Bodied” is a can’t-miss time at the movies. It will make every viewer uncomfortable, but Kahn does this intentionally, almost as if saying, “Look what you made me do.”

 

  • “Bodied”
  • Rating: Not yet rated
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Score: 4.5/5 stars