Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B--a biopic

by Alyssa Couball, Writing Intern

The biopic, Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, recently debuted on Lifetime. The entertainment industry is outraged by their depiction of the Princess. And sadly, based on distasteful acting, bad writing, and the absences of significant events and people, I agree. I get what they were going for. The two hour movie is supposed to honor the late singer. Lifetime and executive producer Wendy Williams, did not set out to disgrace the singer or her family. Unfortunately, they did.

The story launches in 1989, when the young Aaliyah, played by Alexandra Shipp, appeared on Star Search. The singer’s discouragement grows as she does not get picked. But with the help of her Uncle Rashad, a music producer--played by A.J. Saudin--she gets recognized. She shows off her talent to R&B singer R. Kelly, played by Cle Bennett. At first, he’s not interested in hearing some “kid.” But after hearing her voice, he falls in love with more than just her voice.

The 15­-year-­old Aaliyah and 27-­year-­old R. Kelly get married. But their marriage is cut short, as the two are forced to get an annulment, by the pop star’s pissed off parents. The dialogue between the singer and R. Kelly is super cheesy. Listening to the “babe” and “baby” became exasperating, and uncomfortable to watch.

Next, the movie delves into the late singer’s acting career. They touch briefly on one of the two movies she starred in. It was a little misleading because they failed to mention the movie where she alone shined in the spotlight, The Queen of the Damned. Similar could be said of how they treated her singing career. The movie did not touch on any of her most popular songs, such as “Rock the Boat,” “Try Again,” or “Miss You.” (editor’s note: there were issues with rights)

The actors portraying Timbaland and Missy Elliot are embarrassing to watch--comical. Now, I see why Timbaland threw some serious shade about the movie’s premiere.

In the end, she meets Damon Dash, played by Anthony Grant, and the two plan a
future together. However, their plans are cut short as the young singer dies in an airplane crash. But they don’t depict her death at all. Instead, text appears similar to these words: she dies, she will be remembered, yada, yada. The end.

Not good enough. 

The producers should have gone above and beyond here. Lifetime was NOT the right network to make this movie. MTV or another network or anyone else could’ve really nailed this. I don’t have anything positive to say about it. And based on the internets, no one has anything positive to say about it. I have five words for people thinking about watching it. Do NOT waste your time.


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