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DVD Review: On the Come Up

February 14, 2023

By John Corrado

Please note that this is a review of the DVD release of On the Come Up. For my full thoughts on the film itself, you can read my original review from TIFF right here.

After its TIFF premiere and streaming debut in September, the Paramount+ drama On the Come Up is now getting a physical DVD release this week.

Based on a novel by Angie Thomas (who also wrote the book behind the 2018 film The Hate U Give), On the Come Up follows Bri (Jamila C. Gray), a 16-year-old aspiring rapper who wants to follow in the footsteps of her late father, and gets a chance at her big break when she is noticed on the local battler rap scene by his former manager (Cliff “Method Man” Smith).

The film serves as the directorial debut of actress Sanaa Lathan (who also gives herself a supporting role as Bri’s mother), and as I noted in my initial review, the filmmaking feels amateurish. As I wrote, “despite having some energy during the rap scenes, On the Come Up is mostly a clichéd teen movie that bites off more than it can chew in terms of all the themes it tries to address.”

The film tries to tackle police brutality, gang violence, and if rappers are morally culpable for their violent lyrics, but it’s all very heavy-handed, and struggles to rise above feeling like an after school special in places. The one bright spot is Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who does bring some life to the screen with her performance as Bri’s aunt and manager. Overall, this is a frustratingly mediocre high school drama, but one that is still fairly well suited to DVD or streaming.

Film Rating: ★½ (out of 4)

Bonus Features (DVD):

The DVD includes a single bonus featurette and a lyric video.

You Can’t Stop My Come Up (11 minutes, 41 seconds): Director Sanaa Lathan, author Angie Thomas, lead actress Jamila C. Gray and others discuss the importance of Black female representation, the characters and themes of the story, as well as the original rap songs that are performed in the film.

“On the Come Up” Lyric Video (2 minutes, 55 seconds): The title track performed with on-screen lyrics over film clips and recording studio B-roll.

On the Come Up is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 115 minutes and rated PG-13.

Street Date: February 14th, 2023

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