The best part about ATL, a standard stuck-in-the-hood movie that periodically remembers it also features a roller rink, is the occasional line of perfectly timed banter. Two teenage girls are rating the attitude of a guy coming up to the rink entrance. They dig it, they don’t, oh but wait they definitely like his car. [Beat.] “Let’s touch it.” “Ok.”
Hanging out is what the likeable cast of ATL does best, so it’s a pity they have to trudge through canned story arcs and, when plot calls, Dramatic Dialogue. In the absence of parents, level-headed serious-cool Rashad (Tip Harris, aka T.I.) looks after his baby brother Ant, who falls into dealing drugs for a man in an SUV with really big tires. A friend, Esquire, aspires to the Ivy League but may have to compromise himself to network. And Rashad’s new girlfriend, New-New, may be not be what she seems.
To his credit, director Chris Robinson, a music video veteran, wrings out the occasional moment and has an affectionate nostalgic eye for his characters, but it’s all tethered by cliché.
Opens March 31st