Showbiz / Five Reasons to Watch Quirky Rap Dramedy Patti Cake$

Five Reasons to Watch Quirky Rap Dramedy Patti Cake$

Showbiz Aug 22, 2017

The Cannes hip-hop hit promises a poignant underdog tale, electrifying tunes and breakout performances. Here are our solid five reasons why you need to watch Patti Cake$. 

After making considerable waves at Sundance, Cannes and other stops along the festival circuit, the offbeat hip-hop dramedy Patti Cake$ is currently playing in select theatres across North America. With its story of an underdog New Jersey girl striving for rap superstardom, it’s been compared by many viewers to Eminem’s 8 Mile. But with a distinct directorial vision and a star-making lead performance, this one’s anything but a knock-off. Here are five reasons you’ll want to check out Patti Cake$.

1. A star-making turn.

Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$
Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$: Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald) strives against the odds for hip-hop glory. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight/

Danielle Macdonald, the film’s young Australian lead, was supposed to get her North American breakout a few years back when she landed the lead part in ABC Family’s Huge. Alas, a visa issue forced her to drop out. But in the end, talent won out, and she wound up giving one of the year’s most buzzed turns as Patricia Dombrowski (stage name, Patti Cake$), a Jersey kid who refuses to let poverty, family strife or the haters of the world keep her from rapping her way out of the “strip mall suburbia” she was born into. It’s a saga Macdonald’s earned raves for anchoring with wit, pathos, charisma and a knack for spitting rhymes. You’ll be seeing more of her.

2. A sidekick to remember.

Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$
Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$: Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) is Patti’s co-pilot on this unlikely journey to rap stardom. Photo Credit: Jeong Park

Siddharth Dhananjay first rose to fame online, offering up his own hot takes on hits like Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” and posting them on YouTube and WorldStarHipHop. That’s where director Geremy Jasper discovered Siddharth and tapped him for the role of Patti’s friend Jheri — pharmacist by day, rapper and hype man by night.

“It’s kind of ridiculous, right?” Dhananjay chuckles when we ask him about being “discovered.” “I didn’t really plan on being an actor at all. Me and my friends were making these rap videos for fun, just because we loved making them. And Geremy just sort of randomly watched one of them online and reached out to me and wanted to see if it would work out. … He said in a way he felt robbed, because he had a similar sort of character in his mind for Jheri, and when he saw the videos, he thought ‘Wow, this person already exists in the world. They beat me to it.’”

As you might expect from the image above, Jheri fills the role of comic relief, but like Macdonald, Dhananjay makes for one indelibly quirky dreamer. His bond with Patti is an integral valve in the film’s gritty, pulsing heart, keeping his pal Patti afloat when the world and her own self-doubt threaten to drag her under.

3. A director to watch.

Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$
Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$:Patti (Danielle Macdonald) and Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) at Jheri’s day job. Photo Credit: Jeong Park

An accomplished music video helmer who’s worked with the likes of Selena Gomez and Florence + the Machine, Geremy Jasper offers up an auspicious feature film debut with Patti Cake$. Before they were Hollywood royalty, A-list auteurs like Spike Jonze and David Fincher cut their teeth at MTV. It’s certainly too soon to count Jasper among their rarified ranks, but Patti Cake$ is most definitely the work of an artist with a singular eye. Jasper has crafted an arresting, authentic and gritty yet whimsical world that’s been hailed for making a familiar underdog tale feel fresh.

“He is a mad genius,” Dhananjay says. “He wrote the movie, he directed it and he made all the music. He had to do so much, it was stressful for him, and for us to watch him try to juggle all of this.”

4. Inspiration without manipulation.

Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$
Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$: Patti (Danielle Macdonald) and Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) get ready for a rap battle. Photo Credit: Jeong Park

Speaking of “underdog tales,” who doesn’t love one? Watching a scrappy hero wrestle a little piece of their dream from the clutches of the powers that be makes for a uniquely exhilarating cinematic experience, one that Patti Cake$ deftly delivers, earning its moments of triumph thanks to an engaging protagonist mired in grounded, relatable tragedy. Patti has no money to speak of, her relationship with her mother is deeply fraught and her fellow rappers dismiss her as “Dumbo.” So it’s all the more thrilling when she grabs the mic and unleashes her fury.

In that way, Patti Cake$ is also a film that might make the hip-hop world a bit more accessible to the uninitiated. Dhananjay recounts interacting with elderly film buffs on the festival circuit who had their eyes opened to the genre by this “indie 8 Mile.” While in Cannes, “A lot of people were like, ‘Thank you for showing us the real America.’”

5. The music.

Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$
Five Reasons to Watch Patti Cake$: Theatrical poster Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

What’s better than an underdog defying the odds? An underdog who defies the odds to a sick beat that’s all her own! And since the first screening, festival audiences have been keen to pick up what Patti’s been laying down. A hip-hop quest doesn’t work if the music’s not on point. While Dhananjay had some experience in this sort of thing before filming, Macdonald had to learn from scratch how to rock that mic, reportedly spending almost three years in prep. The result? Well, just take a look.


Main Image Photo Credit: Jeong Park

Matthew Currie

Matthew Currie


A long-standing entertainment journalist, Currie is a graduate of the Professional Writing program at Toronto’s York University. He has spent the past number of years working as a freelancer for ANOKHI and for diverse publications such as Sharp, TV Week, CAA’s Westworld and BC Business. Currie ...