We have all felt the overwhelming pressure to determine what we were going to do with the rest of our lives after graduating from high school. The actors of “ATL” are undergoing a similar experience. The movie tells the story of four high school graduates from a working class neighborhood in Atlanta, Ga. Although they all share the same goal – to get more out of life – they all have to overcome different obstacles to make their dream a reality. The four graduates deal with the hardships both on and off of Cascade Skating Rink, the main social location where skaters compete to gain respect in the South-side. “ATL” discusses issues relevant to the typical teenager’s life concerning love, money, failure, success and “keeping it real.” Tip “T.I” Harris plays the role of a young man who has had a lot of responsibilities since the age of 15. He is a focused, mature, father-like brother, who has been taking care of his household since the unfortunate death of his parents. “ATL” is based on the lives of Dallas Austin and Tionne Watkins, serving as a replica of their experiences growing up in Atlanta.
Director Chris Robinson IV created the film around real-life experiences, allowing the audience members to feel as if they were really in Atlanta. Everything was authentic to the city, including the down-south music, actors and central hot spots such as Cascade Skating Rink, known as JellyBeans to Atlanta residents. “ATL” is refreshingly motivating to teenagers, thanks to Harris, whose role is unlike 50 Cent’s gangster role in “Get Rich or Die Trying” or Beanie Seigal’s drug dealer role in “State Property.” He has dreams of becoming a newspaper cartoonist and has the mindset that one does not have to be a drug dealer to make money.
Although the rapper-turned-actor trend is at an all-time high, Harris proves to be most convincing. Throughout the movie, viewers definitely forget that he is a rapper and only perceive him as a coming-of-age high school graduate. I can see future acting roles throughout Harris’s career. “ATL” could not have been released at a better time for Harris, who recently dropped his album King on March 28, 2006. His single “What You Know” is available on the soundtrack for the film.
Make it a point to see Warner Bros.’ “ATL.” It will be in a theater near you by March 31, 2006.