1 hour, 58 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
for pervasive language and some sexual content
DVD Features: Who Is Petey Greene?: The cast and crew discuss the racial politics of the '60s and '70s and the change of social commentary in radio; Recreating P-Town: A behind-the-scenes look at the music, fashion and production design of the film; Deleted scenes.
In this real life biography Don Cheadle ("Hotel Rwanda") plays Ralph "Petey" Greene Jr., a convict in Virginia's Lorton Prison, spinning records by Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke on the prison's radio station and telling the inmates what's goin' on in his inimitable style, in the world outside. When he manages to get himself released, he re-connects with his loyal girlfriend Vernell (Taraji P. Henson "Hustle & Flow") and jive-talks his way into a job at a soul radio station in Washington DC.
Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Dirty Pretty Things") plays the R&B station's program director Dewey Hughes whose all-black DJ staff, included the Nighthawk (Cedric the Entertainer "The Original Kings of Comedy") and the coma-inducing Sunny Jim Kelsey (Vondie Curtis-Hall "Eve's Bayou"), The station's sympathetic owner E.G. Sonderling is played by Martin Sheen (TV's "The West Wing"). Even though Petey and Dewey instantly clash, and despite testing the FCC with his questionable language, Petey becomes an immediate hit, quickly becoming one of DC's most recognizable personalities in the 1960s where he remained one of its most popular albeit loudmouth voices all the way up to his death in 1984.
Director Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou") follows Petey's story as his popularity rises and Dewey becomes his best friend and manager and finally when their relationship deteriorates. The entire cast is superb, but Lemmons' major achievement is the way that she has been able to present nearly 20 years of history while allowing the story to keep moving. Most film bios have a tendency to hit only highlights, like a stone skimming over the water but never getting wet. But Lemmons manages to structure her film with just the right mix of comedy, drama and emotion.
But what makes this film really memorable is seeing the sensational performances of both Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor. You can look for them both at the top of the best acting awards lists at year's end. You won't want to miss them.
Don Cheadle ... Petey Greene
Chiwetel Ejiofor ... Dewey Hughes
Mike Epps ... Milo Hughes
Peter MacNeill ... Warden Cecil Smithers
Taraji P. Henson ... Vernell Watson
Cedric the Entertainer ... "Nighthawk” Bob Terry
Martin Sheen ... E.G. Sonderling
Martin Randez ... Hadley
Vondie Curtis-Hall ... Sunny Jim Kelsey