All Eyez On Me

This movie serves as a history lesson that many of us would rather forget.

All Eyez On MeVarious movies simply need to be seen in a certain environment, and the Tupac Shakur bio All Eyez On Me is one of them. Stated another way, this is not likely to be a popular film in either Greenwood or the Hamilton County area. I saw it at the Georgetown Cinema here in Indianapolis, and once again, I was the only Caucasian in the audience. That was intentional, and I gained from the experience.

Though this is a movie that has been criticized by certain critics as well as African Americans like Jada Pinkett Smith, it still manages to tell a story that deserves to be remembered. Though Tupac was gunned down while riding in a car in Vegas at the age of 25 in the 1990s, he continues to command attention for reasons both unnecessary yet fully deserved.

The title of the movie flows from one of his most popular albums, and the music expectedly permeates the entire film. It is told in flashbacks from an interview in prison where he was serving time for a domestic assault. Though his guilt is questionable, the movie describes his life story beginning with a pregnant mother who is just leaving police custody herself.

Tupac never knew his father, and grows up under the careful guidance of his mother Afeni (Danai Guriria), a former member of the Black Panthers. She remained a committed activist throughout her life, and it was clear that the child was not going to fall far from the family tree.

Forced to move to California at a young age, Tupac soon became a fixture in the growing rap industry. Quickly associating with Death Row Records, he soon becomes a national institution that will eventually destroy his life.

The value of this film can be described in different ways. On the one hand, it clearly shows the destructive life for African Americans living in the inner cities across our nation, and Tupac’s focus on this tragic fact leads to an allegation of burglary where he was shot multiple times.

On a different level, it also describes the frequently outrageous lifestyle that consumed rappers like Tupac and that was vividly seen in last year’s monstrous hit, Straight Outta Compton. These guys were surrounded by drugs, guns and beautiful, scantily clad women, and it is hard to criticize these young men as many followed a destructive path.

The other reason that I was committed to seeing this film was an obligation I felt to our first Saudi foreign exchange student, Thamar Al Zahrani. He stayed with us for several years where he attended IUPUI after graduating from The International High School. When I first met him, he knew little about American history or culture except for one thing. The loveable lad was a big Tupac fan, and he could give a striking impersonation of him while singing his songs.

He has been back in Saudi Arabia working for several years, and we maintain close contact with him. Not long ago he sent us a video of a group of 15 Saudi boys singing a Michael Jackson song as they impersonated him in their Arabic garb. It is a flatout hysterical scene, and anyone interested in accessing it should feel free to contact me.

In the end, the movie suffered from both its length (2 hours 20 minutes) and its attempt to tell far too much about Tupac’s life. Then again, I must admit that it was a rewarding experience, so keep it in mind if you are struggling to find a movie worth seeing in the cinematic desert known as the summer of 2017.