VOD Review - Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall
Wright shadows Hall a month before his tour started in July 2016 and had a camera by his side till the tour's end, which was right before the election of Donald Trump. Aside from the feverish and frantic, backstage antics and conversations, illustrating the struggles and the stresses of putting together an independent musical tour, both financial and otherwise, this movie is also in witness and in reaction to several instances of gun violence that at times personally affected Hall during that fateful summer of 2016. This movie and Hall comment in the moment to things like the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, as well as the shooting of Philando Castille near Saint Paul, Minnesota. Through Hall, we get an interesting cross-section of someone being both black and gay feeling threatened after these two instances where people of both persuasions separately lost their lives.
At one point in the movie, Hall who was 31 at the time of this tour talks about when he was growing up he didn't have any gay black men as role models or inspirations on TV, in film or music that he could look up to. To a very real extent, that's true. However, he then goes on to say there's no gay black men today other than RuPaul. He positions himself as this singular beacon for people of his generation or younger, and this is where I would push back on Hall. There's plenty of gay black men in entertainment that should be acknowledged.
Hall is a good vocalist and is clearly very creative, but his placement of himself as more important or outstanding on the media landscape than he actually might be is a little disconcerting. In this movie, we see Hall is cast to be on Broadway and he has a meeting with Billy Porter, a fellow gay black man who is also a triple-threat and on Broadway. Hall obviously recognizes Porter's star-power, but Porter, however, isn't the only gay black man on Broadway either. There's Colman Domingo, Tituss Burgess and the late Alvin Ailey.
Hall is certainly successful. His album did well on the iTunes charts. His tour apparently had sell-outs or always had huge crowds. What he did was incredible in putting on this tour, creating the music and choreography, as well as the videos to go along with each song. For the most part, Hall is fun, if tiring to watch. He's charming and engaging, hard-working, but I don't know if I would want to see a story about him over Smollett, Ocean or Patterson, or even someone like Alvin Ailey.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 40 mins.
Available on Netflix.