So I watched the VH1 Original film about TLC titled CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. I was a huge fan of TLC growing up and I, much like many of you, just had to see this movie. We all know the story of TLC and like with many film biopics, we want to see how accurately and detailed the story is told of what I feel is one of the most influential and unique female groups in the history of the music industry. I’m not saying that just to say it; I am saying it because it is the truth. When TLC jumped on the scene in the early 90s, there was no other female group that brought that unique blend of R&B, Hip-Hop, and pure unadulterated flavor and sex appeal like they brought to their music and performances. You had 3 young and talented young women that came together and took the music world by storm despite all of the turbulent trials and tribulations that they endured not only as the a unit, but also as individuals.
All of this is expressed so vividly in the film and what I love so much about CrazySexyCool is that I went into the movie not expecting much, but came out of it with so much more knowledge and insight of the history of TLC. I went into this movie not expecting much simply considering it was a made for TV movie and let’s be honest, most made for TV movies are written lackadaisically and not produced to their potential. Not only is this movie produced and written excellently, but the performances just blow me away.
I’ll be honest when I say that I raised an eyebrow when I first discovered that Lil’Mama would be cast as Lisa Lopes. I thought this was a move made simply because Lil’ Mama favors her in looks. Wouldn’t you believe….Lil’ Mama is amazing in her role and in my opinion presents an accurate portrayal of Left Eye from her in-your-face attitude and lively mannerisms. I still can’t believe it and I’ll go as far as to say that Lil’ Mama is the highlight of watching this film for me considering that I felt some type of way about Left Eye by the end of this movie but not in a way that you may be thinking. I’ll get back to that in a few.
Let me get back to the portrayal of the story of TLC. Now I’ll admit, I was never a TLC fanboy that knew absolutely everything about them and I never knew of the shady business handlings of their careers. This is something I read about prior to viewing the film. This film biopic makes Pebbles look like the lowest piece of crap on the face of the planet the way she took advantage of TLC in the beginning stages of their career. It is just crazy how someone can be so greedy, manipulative, and opportunistic to take money from under the table off the hard work of 3 talented young women who set records. She fudged up their contracts assuming that they would never question her business dealings of their respective careers because she felt that she was acting as a “big sister” and guiding force as their manager. That’s the music industry folks and I like the way Pebbles is portrayed because she isn’t painted as this evil woman who’s main goal is to earn major money off the success of TLC. It is Pebbles’ intention, but she is painted as someone who has made an investment in their careers and wants the TLC act to succeed by any means because she along with L.A. Reid sees how unique TLC is and their impending success means big money for her and LaFace Records.
I’ve got to also congratulate Keke Palmer and Drew Sidora in their respective portrayals of Chili and T-Boz. I just overall think that everyone excels in their rolls in the film and I am impressed with the presentation. When they are showing the group in MTV interviews and footage from performances and tours, it feels like I am watching actual footage of TLC from the 90s, which is something the film is so good at presenting. In fact, the presentation is so good that when VH1 was running adverts for the TLC 20-year Anniversary album, I thought it was actually part of the film. This is how good the film is at presenting not only the 90s visuals, but the outfits that TLC wore, and the scenery of that era of TV and music as well. Everything is captured to a tee!
Now let me jump back to the story of TLC because it ties in to the portrayal of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. This film presents a lot of inside stuff that I was not aware of including Chili’s relationship to Dallas Austin (Big ups to Evan Ross in the role), Chili aborting her 1st child, the death of Left Eye’s father the same day she is signed to LaFace Records, and the fact that Chili was not originally supposed to be a member of TLC. This film is enlightening in that respect for me as far as the background of TLC is concerned. The film is strong emotionally in its presentation of the story of how these events unfolded including T-Boz being diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia.
As far as the portrayal of Left Eye in the film, especially during the period where TLC is bouncing back and at the height of their popularity, although she is not afraid to speak her mind and is a free-spirited individual, she comes off as a selfish weak-minded person. I’m sorry, I may upset a lot of people because Left Eye is loved by legions of fans including myself, but by the end of the film I was completely turned off by her attitude and felt bad for Chili and T-Boz. They are dedicated to the group and show support for Lisa no matter what crap she is dealing with, but Left Eye only begins to think about herself. That is just so selfish when you are in a group and you have other people in your head telling you that you can be so much more successful than the people that struggled standing beside you and you let yourself easily be manipulated and turn on the people who have always stuck beside you. Left Eye was a talented lyricist, no doubt, but the way she comes off towards the end of the film is a blemish on her legacy for me. That is why I say Lil’ Mama’s performance as Left Eye is the highlight for me because it really has me feeling some type of way about Left Eye towards the end of her existence.
I really enjoyed this film, I honestly can’t pick out anything that I don’t like about it. It is probably as good as it gets as far as a made for TV biopic. If you haven’t seen this film and know the story of TLC, you will love it. If you are a youngster that wants to learn about one of the greatest female groups in the history of the music industry, I highly recommend it because it is not only educative about TLC, but the film unintentionally teaches you about life. It teaches you about being aware of shady people no matter what business you enter, about maintaining a leveled head no matter what success you attain, about not letting relationships effect your career, and most importantly, about how to cope with real life situations such as pregnancy, illness, and even death. What is most satisfactory about watching CrazySexyCool is the nostalgia of reliving the times of watching the performances and listening to the music of TLC. No doubt this group was meant to be.