Movie Review: Talk To Me

Talk to Me is a homecoming movie for Washington, DC. It stars two of the best actors of today, Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor. This fascinating story explores the life of a local deejay named Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene (Cheadle), an ex-con whose career began as a deejay in the socially conscience times of the mid-to-late 1960’s.

Later, with the help of then WOL radio program director Dewey Hughes (Ejiofor), Petey became one of the most iconic radio personalities in Washington, DC, where he worked, until his death in 1984. This film captured the audience by showing the making of a true radio shock jock.The first half of the film is filled with sheer comedy. Director Kasi Lemmons uses satire to expose the truth of the two main characters. When Dewey visits his brother Milo (Mike Epps) in jail and is indirectly introduced to Petey Green he feels he is subjected to humiliation. Dewey resents the fact that he has to visit his brother in jail and thinks less of him or any other person who has been in the penal system.

After finishing his stint in jail, Petey moved in with his girl friend Vernell (Taraji P. Henson). He then talks his way into a job working in Dewey’s radio station. He and Dewey clash instantly but from his morning debut on the air, Petey became an instant hit. The station had their star DJ Nighthawk (Cedric the Entertainer), the smooth and sexy talking personality who wore fur coats, received tons of fan mail, and lit candles in the DJ booth but only said one joke the entire movie. The softer toned DJ Sunny Jim Kesley (Vondie Curtis-Hall) played an even smaller role.

Unlike his colleagues, Petey’s “speak your mind style” tested the patience of radio station owner E.G. Sonderling (Martin Sheen). But the station could not deny Petey’s broadcasting style because he rallied the working class African-American people of Washington and spoke for those who did not have a voice in the city. Dewey would go out of his way to give Green the forum to express him self and the fans that supported him. Lemmons’ “pause and reflect style” of narration made each character draw into themselves to become loyal counter parts and shared their will to succeed.Screenwriters Mike Genet (She Hate Me) and Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar) accurately portray Petey as the original shock jock, whose routines and improvisational skills set the stage for the shock jocks of today. Perhaps Don Imus would learn a thing or two from Petey.

The story takes a turn when Petey, heroically, tries to calm the city down on the airwaves as the city is demonized by civil unrest due to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Unfortunately, this is when Petey’s demon, alcoholism, begins to take over. Lemmons was able to effectively trace Petey’s career by blending comedy with satire. She captures the historic essence of Petey and Dewey’s during their career. Screenwriters Genet and Famuyiwa developed a seamless script that kept the characters’ personality vibrant, even when they were down. Lemmons brought out the best in these two amazing actors. It will be a matter of time before Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor win some Oscars.