September 19, 2007

R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet

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In 2005, a music video entitled “Trapped in the Closet” made its debut on MTV and BET. R. Kelly used it to tell the simple cautionary tale of the consequences of going home with a “hot shorty” after a night of club-hopping. It begins when Sylvester, the narrator, finds himself in a strange bed, wondering what he is doing there. Moments later, Sylvester’s shorty from the night before enters the bedroom and Sylvester informs her that he needs to return to his wife and home. Unfortunately for Sylvester, the shorty hears her husband coming home, thus barring Sylvester from making a quick escape from her house.
And so, a question is posed: “What’s a thug to do?”
The only reasonable answer? Hide in the closet.
Initially, the plan goes off without a hitch. The shorty’s husband comes into the bedroom, he sees his wife and they smile at each other, a façade of picture-perfect marital bliss. That is, until Sylvester’s cell phone rings. The husband hears it and declares that there is a mystery going on. He then vows to solve it and begins searching the bedroom. He looks behind the shower curtain; Sylvester “starts sweating like hell. The husband looks under the bed, and opens up the dresser. He looks at the closet; Sylvester pulls out his beretta.” The video ends dramatically, with the closet open, thus exposing Sylvester and unraveling a labrynthian world of secrets and lies.
The ensuing 11 chapters introduce a number of characters and plot twists. The shorty, whose name is Cathy, finds out that her husband Rufus is having an affair with a man named Chuck. Sylvester calls his wife at home only to hear a man answer the phone. He speeds home and gets stopped on the way by a cop, who, unbeknownst to him is having an affair with his wife, Gwendolyn. Unfortunately for the cop, he has no idea that his wife Bridget is pregnant by her lover, a midget stripper named Big Man. Somewhere in the mix, Gwendolyn’s brother, Twan, is released from prison. After returning to Gwendolyn and Sylvester’s home, he is accidentally shot in the arm. Like a true G, Twan quickly cleans up his gunshot wound in the bathroom.
Audiences were left hanging, wondering what was going to happen next. That is, until now. Chapters 13-22 of “Trapped in the Closet” were released on DVD on August 21st.
Chapter 13 starts strongly with a recap of the first twelve chapters. The DVD quickly goes downhill from there. The storyline goes from being convoluted to sloppy. New characters are introduced and plot twists from the first twelve chapters are recycled. In essence, the next ten chapters seem to dig R. Kelly into a deeper hole, leaving audiences wondering how he’ll wrap this saga up neatly and coherently.
Realistically, though, it is not all bad. R. Kelly is a poet, not a storyteller. First and foremost, he is a man who concerns himself with details. An absolutely glowing example of this comes right after the re-cap, when the narrator (played by Kelly in a radiant white suit) crosses paths with Sylvester. The narrator momentously places a lighter in the pocket of Sylvester’s suit jacket, signifying the beginning of the new installment as well as the advent of a new era in the Hip-Hopera genre.
In addition to R. Kelly’s attention to detail, his gift clever word-play is frequently showcased throughout the newest installment, as demonstrated by the use of the phrase “crazier than a fish with titties.” Another commendable aspect of the series is R. Kelly’s insistence on performing all of the vocals. In addition to narrating, Kelly provides the voices for all of the characters, from Sylvester, to Bridget, a Caucasian woman with a southern accent and from Rosie the Nosy Neighbor to Pimp Luscious. While it gets difficult to differentiate the characters’ voices, taking on a task of this magnitude deserves some credit.
By themselves, chapters 13-22 do not have much to offer. However, I would not say that parts 13-22 are not worth seeing. Instead, I would make the case that they are simply not worth paying to see. Like many sequels, they have moments of redemption that try very hard, but cannot revive a struggling production and are best viewed with their previous installments.