The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Taxi Driver, Blue Velvet, and now R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. All of these films have gained some amount of cult status over the years. But only one shines with that “so bad, it’s good” aesthetic that charms me (almost) every time. Sure bad movies come a dime a dozen, but few are written and directed by R&B superstar R. Kelly. Who knew there were parallels between Tommy Wiseau and R. Kelly?
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Trapped in the Closet (and I don’t know how you couldn’t be), this “hip-hopera” from 2005 tells the story of Sylvester (Kelly) who finds himself in a series of wildly absurd situations. Trapped has been parodied most notably by an episode of South Park by the same name. To try to explain the scope of Trapped‘s plot is futile, but let me just drop a few keywords here that should pique your interest: midget, lesbianism, guns, bisexual pastor and a pimp named Lucious. R. Kelly voices all the characters and in the spirit of Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor, plays five different roles. One of the facets that make this bit of art so entertaining is that this 86 minute music video is broken into 22 chapters, each ending with a plot twist that would make M. Night jealous. By chapter 5 I was completely spent by the emotional roller coaster R. Kelly had me on. The twists, turns and next level wordplay (the man rhymes dresser and Beretta… sort of) make Trapped in the Closet surprisingly entertaining and highly rewatchable.
The REAL gem of the Trapped in the Closet DVD is Kelly’s commentary. You get to watch R. Kelly watching his masterpiece and it’s clear Kelly has not concept of what a film commentary is. As the commentary goes on Kelly synopsizes the events taking place on the screen in front of him. Kelly doesn’t speak on the casting of the actors, or the cinematography, or anything other than why the characters are doing what they’re doing. Kelly even announces what his character is about to do. “This is when my character pulls out his gun” (I’m paraphrasing) and sure enough his character does pull out a gun. And with that Kelly (grinning ear to ear) turns to the camera recording the commentary as if to watch your reaction. You can tell he is quite happy with the final product and I can honestly say I share the same feelings Mr. Kelly.
Does R. Kelly have plans for more Trapped in the Closet chapters? Check out the video below!
Trapped in the Closet trivia: In chapter 15, one of the police officers in the interrogation is played by musician Will Oldham.