‘Pimp’ Review: Blaxploitation and Lesbian Love

Posted November 8, 2018 10:45 p.m. EST

Lousy with stereotypes and filthy language, the sordid “Pimp” wraps 21st-century blaxploitation in a lesbian love story as unconvincing as every other relationship onscreen.

Most of these are conducted at full volume, the shouting and expletives punctuated by catfights, beat-downs and the expected shootout. The titular pimp is Wednesday (Keke Palmer), who learned the trade from her now-dead father — not very well, apparently, as she’s in the hole — and fancies herself a tough-talking player. Wednesday has two strategies for augmenting her bottom line, one of which is to coax the luscious Destiny (Vanessa Morgan), a pole-dancing prostitute, to join her stable of hardworking women. The other is to reluctantly allow her childhood friend and longtime love, Nikki (Haley Ramm), to do the same. At least she’s reluctant.

Packed with skimpily clothed women and on-the-nose musical choices, this lurid melodrama adds to Wednesday’s burdens with a drug-addicted mother (an occasionally touching Aunjanue Ellis) and a murderous rival, Kenny (Edi Gathegi). Kenny has guns, gold-capped teeth and a vile tongue; he also has first dibs on Destiny. It’s hard out there for our pimp.

Written and directed by Christine Crokos, “Pimp” is sleazy as all get-out. Rik Zang’s cinematography is fine in the skin shots, but his street scenes are flat and lifeless, giving us no sense of place or a world outside the purely transactional. The movie might leave you drained and disgusted, yet it also serves as a reminder that Palmer (whose last notable feature, “Akeelah and the Bee,” was 12 years ago) is an unusually intense talent who deserves a much better vehicle than this one.


Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes.