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Talk to Me
Genre Biography
Year: 2007

Talk to Me is one of those movies that just had to be made, and Petey Green was one of those extraordinary people that deserves the recognition. He led a fascinating life that only really came into its own, when he had a mouthpiece. It didn’t matter if it was a microphone, a loudspeaker or a talk show… the man told it like it was. It didn’t matter if ‘keeping it real’ was unpopular as long as it was his truth. Green’s prolific life was all about hard-living and he was a ‘miscreant’ before he became a celebrity. His days of ‘telling it like it is’ on the radio and fighting to get noticed allowed him to interact with the wider community and dedicate his station to the people. Talk to Me is the story of popular Washington radio personality, talk show host, community activist and ex-con, Ralph “Petey” Green (Cheadle).

Talk to Me follows Green’s exploits with a foot in documentary accuracy and a foot in entertainment. It’s kind of like Howard Stern’s “Private Parts” movie, except the material is poised on much larger issues involving race, politics and culture. There are several anachronisms involving music and concerts, but Talk to Me is trying to capture the Zeitgeist of Green’s era. The afros, fashion, architecture and regalia make the film quality seem suspect, and all fit in nicely with actual footage from the time.

Don Cheadle plays Green like a chapter from his own life and gives Hollywood yet another reason to sit up and take notice. Chiwetel Ejiofor is equally brilliant as Dewey Hughes, Green’s manager and champion. The two dominate the screentime with brief injections of Martin Sheen, Taraji P. Henson and Cedric the Entertainer. They share a brotherly connection as Hughes lives vicariously through Green. Green was the voice and Hughes was the action. The two complement each other in performance and character. Ejiofor’s accent is pristine and the British actor is right at home in America. Cheadle’s accent is just as impressive as he holds Green’s dialect and puts mimics his show talk.

Talk to Me is a slice of America and gives insight into Petey Green’s rollercoaster biography. The tone ranges from light comic relief to more serious drama. Political and racial issues are confronted with particular interest in Dr. Martin Luther Jr’s assassination. However, the impetus is directed at the relationship between Green and Hughes. Ralph “Petey” Green inspired a wave of talk radio and Talk to Me does an amazing job of capturing the spirit of the man. The viewership is probably quite narrow, given the subject material but all audiences will benefit from the terrific performances, mis-en-scene and entertaining story-telling.

The bottom line: Solid.

7.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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