TIFF 2017: Bodied Is A Politically Incorrect Crowd-Pleaser

Who’s Behind It

Directed by Joseph Kahn, written by Alex Larsen, produced by Eminem.

Who’s In It

Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Charlamagne Tha God, Anthony Michael Hall, Rory Uphold, Dumbfoundead, Walter Perez, Shoniqua Shandai, Dizaster, Debra Wilson, Loaded Lux.

Who’ll Love It

8 Mile fans open to a less dramatic, more irreverent alternative.

What’s It About

Adam (Calum Worthy) is a white grad student obsessed with the world of rap battles and determined to study it more closely. After attending a battle with his girlfriend, he quickly bonds with some rappers, demonstrates his own skills, and soon finds himself immersed in this world—as a participant. Seduced by the respect he earns with his skills, he plunges deeper and deeper, destroying his relationship and his standing on campus. In fact, his rhymes—which show up in videos online—are so volatile that they ultimately inspire massive protests.

Why You Should See It

Like comedy in general and roasting more specifically, rap battles are intended to ruffle feathers, push boundaries, and wander into forbidden territory. Rather than simply do this, Bodied very self-consciously analyzes the racism, homophobia, and other indiscretions built into the form. In other words, the film is not passive or indifferent to its extreme political incorrectness. Bodied is guaranteed to offend some viewers—the same way it offends many of the characters onscreen—which comes with the territory. After all, rap battles are all about generating insults and unnecessary conflict. With that lengthy disclaimer out of the way, it should be noted that Bodied is a totally unhinged and wildly entertaining comedy that constantly bombards the viewer with fresh ideas. Not everything in the film works, but its general sensibility is so invigorating, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this exercise in niche storytelling (that explores a very narrow subculture) crosses over into the mainstream. While it has few of the genre trappings most would associate with Midnight Madness (the TIFF program it opened), Bodied is a carefully calibrated crowd-pleaser that’s too good to ignore.

When You Can See It

Saturday, September 9 at 1:45PM (Scotiabank 4); Thursday, September 14 at 8:15PM (Scotiabank 1). Tickets available here. Release date TBD.

Below you’ll find the trailer, the poster, and a clip from Thursday night’s post-screening Q&A.