Early in Feel The Noise, a heavy shoots at pop star Omarion Grandberry, mid-performance. It's a harsh but understandable reaction to the You Got Served star's music, pubic-hair mustache, and silly goatee. If Grandberry's listless hero were smart, he'd capitalize on the incident 50 Cent-style by changing his name to MC Getsshotalot and rushing out a mix-tape called They Can Shoot Me But They Can't Kill Me, Volume 1. Now that might make for an interesting movie.
Unfortunately, the film instead sends Grandberry down to Puerto Rico to reconnect with his long-absent father. Once there, Noise doubles as Reggaeton For Beginners, as Grandberry's producer/half-brother Victor Rasuk patiently explains the subgenre's amalgamation of hip-hop, reggae, and Latin music. It's educational! Grandberry embraces the rich musical melting pot of Reggaeton, but when a big break sends him back to New York, he's forced to confront old beefs.
In Noise's strongest scenes, Grandberry and Rasuk struggle to find their voices as they painstakingly cobble tracks together, but even these scenes suffer by comparison to similar sequences in Hustle & Flow. Otherwise, the film gives a limp Reggaeton spin to antiquated musical-melodrama clichés. Sinister white men try to water down the duo's already innocuous music and steal Grandberry's hot dancer girlfriend. Grandberry works through various daddy and abandonment issues while his father (Giancarlo Esposito, who delivers a better performance than the movie deserves) remains haunted by a thriving musical career that might have been. The scowling Grandberry deeply resents his father, but since Esposito takes him in, no questions asked, and treats him with respect, his hostility comes off as petulant and bratty. For a film about music hailed for its kinetic, percussive energy, Noise is fatally inert. The pacing drags and Grandberry emerges as a singularly wooden presence, a black hole sucking energy and momentum out of the film. Reggaeton has officially come of age: The burgeoning subgenre now has a terrible, opportunistic exploitation movie to call its own.