I like biopics. Regardless of how much poetic license is taken, I always feel like I’ve learned something after watching one. Sorta like The Discovery Channel if sharks fell into drugs and booze before turning their life around and finally eating the man that’s been keeping ’em down.
But biopics have to have one thing that separates them from documentaries. They have to tell a story, and they must follow the rule of stories. That is – a beginning, a climax, and a satisfying ending.
Talk to Me is a fine example of why this must happen. The movie begins the story of Petey Green in a 1960s Washington D.C. prison. Petey is acting DJ for the convicts and through a series of humorous conflicts, he ends up in a real radio station.
At this point in the movie, everything is great. The characters are likable. The setting is interesting. I’m really into it. Then, the movie’s big climax comes with the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and everything gets even better.
But then the movie falls apart. You see, the whole MLK moment happens about an hour into the movie. With another hour left, there’s really no other place to go but down. Sure, Petey gets rich and famous, but it’s all incredibly slow and boring. The manufactured conflicts that come are nothing compared to the first half. They even made Johnny Carson boring. How is that possible?
As a story, Talk to Me‘s beginning is great, the climax is fantastic, and the ending comes an hour too late.