Patti Cakes

Patti Cakes

In Theatres: 
Aug 25, 2017
Running Time: 
108 minutes

It’s impossible to not root for Patricia "Dumbo" Dombrowski in Patti Cake$, played brilliantly by rising star Danielle Macdonald. The film may follow the stereotypical underdog beats, but Macdonald is anything but standard. She commands the screen, delivering a breakout performance in both acting and rapping. She doesn’t just drop the mic; she hurls it to the ground.


Patti (Danielle Macdonald) has spent all her life in New Jersey dreaming of leaving her rundown town and making it big in Hollywood as a rapper just like her idol, OZ. Everyone thinks of her as a joke, however, with the exception of her best friend and rapping partner Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay). Together they form the unlikely rap group PBNJ along with the reclusive and anti-system rebel Bastard (Mamoudou Athie) and Patti’s Nana (Cathy Moriarty). They have quite the uphill battle in front of them, but there is nothing in this world that will stop Patti from reaching her dream.


There have been plenty of stories where some passionate underdog must struggle and rise up against the odds to become the best. We see it in sports films all the time. Patti Cake$ takes a page out of Eminem’s 8 Mile to deliver a character we can deeply care about. We laugh with Patti when she drops a sick beat mocking her opposition. We cry with her when she’s drowning in her dead end job as a bartender surrounded by drunks. It’s terrifying too because we see her mother, played by Bridget Everett, stumble her way into the bar nightly and sing karaoke with a surprisingly amazing voice. For Patti, it’s a window of her future if she doesn’t get out. The fact that no one around her believes in her, despite her talent as a rapper, only pushes her further to succeed and prove them wrong.


Her rap group PBNJ is ridiculous, but damn it if they are not entertaining. There is a goodness that permeates the entire film. Yes, they all want to be rich and successful, but more importantly they want what is best for each other, and that is to just get out of the situation they’ve grown up in. It’s their passion that drives them, and director Geremy Jasper wonderfully captures that in every scene. Jasper also happens to be the brilliant mind behind all the raps of the film. The beats are extremely catchy, like in “PBNJ,” and while tracks like “Tuff Love” provide meaningful and creative lyrics. Danielle Macdonald does an amazing job at delivering them on screen.


Patti Cake$ is one of the most heartfelt films of the year, delivering an entertaining and emotional journey thanks mostly to Danielle Macdonald’s stellar performance. She’s a force to be reckoned with on screen, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for her.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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