Big question: As high school kids come of age in the South, can this flick capture contemporary Atlanta and still be accessible for anyone who thinks ATL is just an airport?
Catch it: "ATL" never suggests that it feels good to be a gangster, nor is it a preachy morality tale peppered with gunshots and prison cells. There are plenty of universal lessons to be found in these sensible kids, who are more interested in hangin' at the pool and winning a hip-hop roller skating contest than partying.
Skip it if: You'll be bothered by an overly explanatory opening, a tacked-on ending or a performance by Tip "T.I." Harris that's less expressive than his fiercely flowing raps.
Bottom line: "ATL" has more than its share of stylistic problems, but there's an overdue honesty and purity to this urban tale about youth trying to fit in. This engaging film shows that when kids have either money or street cred, but never both, the grass is always greener on the other side of town.
Bonus: If you're looking for a solid relationship, wearing a shirt that says "Lookin' for a hustla" probably isn't the way to go.
Directed by Chris Robinson; screenplay by Tina Gordon Chism; story by Antwone Fisher; photographed by Crash; edited by David Blackburn; production designed by Robb Buono; music by Aaron Zigman; produced by James Lassiter, Will Smith, Jody Gerson and Dallas Austin. A Warner Bros. Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:45. MPAA rating: PG-13 (drug content, language, sexual material and some violence).
Rashad - Tip Harris
Ant - Evan Ross
Esquire - Jackie Long
Brooklyn - Albert "Al Be" Daniels
Teddy - Jason Weaver
John Garnett - Keith David
New-New - Lauren London
Uncle George - Mykelti Williamson
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