"Here's your big chance to prove everyone wrong move to the top of the heap!" That's not a line from Geremy Jasper's first feature length film, it is the gist of the story. The downtrodden, picked-on person who dreams of better and gets a shot to prove themself.


We saw it recently with Dexter Fletcher's "Eddie the Eagle" (2016) about the improbable British ski jumper from a blue collar family. We saw it in David Frankel's biopic, "One Chance" (2013) starring James Corden as the first winner of Britain's Got Talent; an aspiring opera singer from the wrong side of town. Heck, I can go back to "Flashdance" (1983)...easily. What about "Save the Last Dance"? Yup.

In other words yet another non-unique story with another non-unique character attempting yet another non-unique feat. Sometimes they win (as in "The Karate Kid") and sometimes they don't (as in "Rocky"). This time we travel into the world of Rap/Hip Hop music.


Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald) is nick-named Dumbo by just about everyone around her except her nearly dead grandma Nana (Cathy Moriarty). In the evenings she works as a bartender at a rundown neighborhood dive, during the day she practices rapping with her Indian friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) who is a pharmacist.


Patty and her family live on the low end of blue collar, somewhere in New Jersey in what could only be called a dump of a home. Nana's medical bills are adding up and most of the income comes from Patty. Her mother is an alcoholic, overweight has-been singer who wastes her time singing karaoke and mooching drinks at the same bar at which Patty works.


Patty - who goes by the rap name of Killa-P - and Jheri dream of hitting it big in the world of rap but face one big drawback, she is white and he is Indian, they get no respect from the local black rappers in the area.

During the course of street rap-off, they meet a reclusive black musician played by Mamoudou Athie (who declares he is the Anti-Christ). Of course, his strangeness fits right in with their cast out personalities so Patty recruits him to join them. You've seen a similar band of misfits in the 1996 Halle Berry movie "Race the Sun".


It turns out that Anti-Christ has a decent studio set-up in the cabin at which he is squatting near the cemetery. So, with the accidental help of Nana, they cut a CD that they plan to take them to the moon and back.


With CD in hand, behind the leadership of Patty there is an opportunity to make a breakthrough in front of a rap music titan - O Z (Sahr Ngaujah) who turns out to be completely underwhelmed with the CD but Patty in general. He declares her a cultural leech and dismisses her efforts. In the meantime bills are stacking up and her mother has fallen in with a cop.


Jasper, who is himself from New Jersey, successfully captures the look and feel of a below-the-poverty-line blue collar New Jersey. The neighborhood is tough and gritty and there is nothing attractive about the atmosphere nor the people living there. He ceated a world of souls with unrealistic dreams; there are no pretty people, even the obne guy who made it looks gritty with his gold "grill". But that is about all Jasper created. His story has been told before by better directors.


To her credit Macdonald does a good job with her rap verses and performances but her character was molded by cookie cutter. It is a color-by-numbers film that has little going for it other than staging.


"Patti Cake$" falls into that category of "here we go again", with a story that's been told before performed with less enthusiasm and realism the previous films. Ho-hum.   -- GEOFF BURTON