Review: Lil Mama surpasses Left Eye role expectations in TLC movie

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In this undated photo provided by VH1, from left, Drew Sidora, Lil Mama and Keke Palmer play the characters of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas in the TLC biopic, “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” which premieres on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, on VH1. (AP Photo/VH1, Blake Tyers)

The movie had me at the opening credits!

VH1’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, the #1 trending topic on social sites during its premiere Monday night, reignited the buzz and fan-based admiration for the Grammy award winning trio.

The movie covers a lot of the backstage occurrences that we never saw like Left Eye’s father’s murder, Chili’s chilling abortion, and T-Boz’s unexpected diagnosis of sickle cell anemia. For 150 minutes, viewers also enjoyed the great moments like when the girls heard their song on the radio for the first time or their very first tour with MC Hammer and Jodeci.  

 

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In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 1995, file photo, the band TLC, left to right, Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, pose for photographers outside New York’s Radio City Music Hall before the start of the 12th Annual MTV Video Music Awards. (AP Photo/Adam Nadel, File)

 

The movie clearly shows that although the three ladies came from different walks of life, they shared synonymous relationship turbulence. After burning down his Atlanta mansion, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (Natia “Lil Mama” Kirkland) struggled with her jealousy-filled relationship with Atlanta Falcons WR Andre Rison.  Rozonda “Chili” Thomas (Keke Palmer) had her own emotional rollercoaster with Atlanta songwriter and producer, Dallas Austin (Evan Ross).  And Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (Drew Sidora) had a couple celebrity flings with Jodeci singer, Dalvin, and West Coast rapper, Mac 10.  

The love affairs showcased the deep tenderness and sacrifices they made for their careers and their significant others, especially Chili.  Always forced to be in Austin’s presence due to work commitments, she was constantly reminded of her previous loss. The abortion scene and the discussion about the decision set the entire tone for the movie and better explains Chili’s jumpy journey with Austin.

KeKe Palmer is all grown up and simply beautiful. Palmer has evolved since her spelling bee days as Akeelah; however, I was not quite sold on her role as Chili. I never thought she resembled her, even from the promotional ads, but the movie solidified my suspicion.  Palmer took on Chili’s emotions but did not really nail the physical aspects; maybe it was the bad front lace wig.

Lil Mama, on the other hand, absolutely blew my mind as the late Left Eye.  She mastered her moves, speech delivery, and overall joyous, rambunctious spirit. It was as if Lil
Mama was made for this role.  There were moments in the movie, like her last moments in Honduras, where I actually thought I was looking at Left Eye.

VH1 (and Twitter last night) did not hold back on Mercedes Boy singer and former TLC Manager, Perri “Pebbles” Reid (Rochelle Aytes).  The movie depicted her as an evil villain who took advantage of the jovial innocence of the 90s girls group and ultimately forced the girls into bankruptcy and seeking other management.

TLC commemorates the movie release with an album release, 20.  The 20th anniversary album features hits like Waterfalls, Creep, No Scrubs and headlines with a brand new song, Meant To Be, which is also introduced in the movie.

4 STARS: Even though we know how the story ends with the tragic death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the movie reminds all TLC fans that Left Eye’s legacy lives on through the remaining members of the group.  A really good made-for-tv movie!

If you missed Monday night’s premiere, VH1 is bound to play the movie several times this week.

 

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MOVIE SCENE QUEEN MERECEDES J. HOWZE

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