[box cover]

ATL

From the description, one would expect ATL (2006) to be yet another urban coming-of-age story full of wannabe gangstas and eardrum piercing hip-hop music. What is really is, however, is a charming, unpretentious and often very funny movie about a roller-skating high school senior named Rashad (Tip Harris, known to music fans as T.I.), his younger brother Ant (Evan Ross), and Rashad's "crew" — former New York boy Brooklyn (Albert Daniels),  Ivy League-bound Esquire (Jackie Long), and Teddy (Jason Weaver), a drop-out who works in a shop making custom gold tooth covers. The story's by Antwone Fisher — yes, the fellow who inspired the movie Antwone Fisher — with a script by Tina Gordon Chism, who penned the better-than-it-should-have-been Drumline. The mostly anecdotal film revolves around their Sunday nights at an Atlanta roller rink, Rashad's romance with a girl named New-New (Lauren London), and Ant's ill-advised adventures selling dope for a skeezy dealer (Big Boi). First-time director Chris Robinson brings their world to vivid life, using the divide between the wealthy north side of Atlanta and the city's poorer south side to examine class conflict within the black community, set in well-chosen locations with characters that feel authentically human. It's not an especially original story, and it owes more than a little to Walter Hill's far superior 1979 film The Warriors, but as coming-of-age films go, it's a good one. It should have had more roller-skating scenes, though — because when those boys take to the rink, it's awesome. Warner's DVD release of ATL offers an excellent anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) that looks absolutely gorgeous. It seems a bit sharper and brighter than the theatrical release, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The DD 5.1 audio (English or Spanish, with optional English, Spanish and French subtitles) is excellent, although the bass has been enhanced — something that will probably please the film's target demographic but others may find a bit annoying. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, short deleted scenes, and a music video for T.I.'s "What You Know." Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor



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