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  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jan
from Film Forum, 04/06/06

Remember Antwone Fisher, the subject of the 2003 true-life drama starring Denzel Washington and Derek Luke? He's back, now as the author of a story adapted into the screenplay for ATL, a movie about growing up in the 'hood.

The narrative focuses on two orphaned brothers, Rashad and Ant. Rashad is a graphic artist struggling to take care of himself and his reckless brother, who makes things complicated by getting involved with drug dealers. He copes by hanging out with his friends at a roller rink.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "Despite a clichéd script, ATL is visually vibrant and wins over your emotions with its appealing performances and positive themes about the bonds of family and friendship, owning up to responsibilities, holding on to dreams and taking pride in your roots."

Adam R. Holz (Plugged In) says ATL "demonstrates how we need other people to help us realize who we really are and to pursue our dreams. … That account is definitely not without problem areas, especially when it comes to the characters' profanity and the camera's frequent focus on the female form. The filmmakers' attempt to render this urban teen world realistically apparently meant including such 'authentic' edgy content." But he concludes that the movie "has a moral core that emphasizes family, friendship, loyalty, hard work and resisting the dangerous influences of the street."

Mainstream critics are impressed with some aspects of it, but they're divided as to whether it's worth the price of a ticket.