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Patti Cake$ (2017) - Plot Summary Poster

(2017)

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Summaries

  • PATTI CAKE$ is centered on aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.


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The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Set in Bergen County, New Jersey, Patricia "Patti" Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald) is having a dream that her favorite rapper O-Z (Sahr Ngaujah) is introducing her to a crowd of cheering fans under her moniker "Killa P". The dream is stopped as Patti's alarm clock goes off. She goes to wake up her mother Barb (Bridget Everett) but finds her in bed with her lover. Patti and Barb live together with Patti's Nana (Cathy Moriarty) after Patti's father walked out on them. The bills for Nana's medicine have been piling up to the point where legal action is being threatened. As Patti walks down the street and daydreams, she is mocked by a guy who calls her "Dumbo" due to her weight problem.

    Patti goes to pick up Nana's medicine at the pharmacy where she meets her best friend Hareesh, AKA Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay). Like Patti, Jheri wants to get signed to a record label to become rap superstars. They go to a spot overlooking the city where they spit some rhymes that they have come up with. The two then go get pizza. Patti is attracted to the shop owner's son Danny (McCaul Lombardi). He meets Patti and Jheri around the back to sell them some weed. Danny hands them a flyer for an upcoming rap show that he and his friends will perform at.

    Patti later goes to work at Lou's, a bar full of sleazy jerks. They all know Barb, as she used to be a talented singer. Barb shows up and starts making Patti give her free shots before going up onstage to sing. Barb has a great voice that even Patti admires. Patti later has to hold Barb's hair as she pukes in the bathroom.

    Patti goes to her boss, Lou (John Sharian) at the bar to ask for a raise and more hours. He says he can't give her that, but he refers her to a friend named Ray (Nick Sandow) who runs a catering business and could use a few extra hands. Patti interviews with Ray, who says he will put her on a list to call when she is needed.

    That weekend, Patti and Jheri go to the rap show to see Danny and his friends perform. They witness a solo performer, Basterd The Antichrist (Mamoudou Athie), who performs a hard rock song about how everyone is a sheep. Basterd gets booed off the stage. Patti tries to follow Basterd on his way out and ask him about his music, but he silently rides away on his bike.

    After the show, Patti and Jheri find Danny with his boys and some others outside a gas station as they spit some of their rhymes. Jheri gets Patti to start throwing down some of her own bars, which impresses some of the guys. Danny raps rude comments to Patti regarding her appearance and weight, which gets to her. However, Patti comes back with some better bars insinuating to the others that she and Danny hooked up. She humiliates him with a kiss, to which he responds by headbutting her. A cop, Officer Nickel (Wass Stevens), shows up, forcing everyone else to run. Nickel sees that Patti is bleeding, but she won't give up who attacked her. Nickel sees Patti's ID and figures she's Barb's daughter. He tells Patti to have Barb give him a call.

    Patti and Jheri get a gig to record some raps with a group of guys that Jheri knows. Jheri tries to throw down some of the weed he bought from Danny, but the others tell him that he got scammed into buying oregano. Patti smokes some of their weed despite never having smoked previously. She gets too high and starts tripping out, causing her to be unable to perform. Jheri is upset but he drives them home safely.

    Barb asks Patti to take Nana out for the day. They go to the cemetery to visit the grave of Nana's late husband and Patti's Pop-Pop. Patti spots Basterd crawling around a grave looking for the single blue contact lens that he wears. After finding it, Basterd retreats through a tunnel known as the Gates of Hell. Patti wheels Nana down the tunnel as she calls Jheri to meet them there. Patti comes across Basterd's secret spot where he records music and beats. Jheri intrudes obnoxiously, and Basterd kicks them out. However, Patti pleads with Basterd to let them record something since they are desperate and want to make music.

    Basterd comes up with a guitar-based beat with Patti and Jheri's lyrics. They even get Nana to contribute to to their song with her raspy voice. Together, they form PBNJ and create a demo CD with five original songs. They make copies and start selling a few, even getting Danny to buy one.

    Patti starts working for Ray and earns extra cash while still working with her friends to make music. They get booked for a performance at a strip club, which Basterd initially objects to as he doesn't want to perform for perverts that objectify women, but Patti convinces him to go along with it. Patti also meets a radio host named DJ French Tips (MC Lyte), whom Patti is a fan of. She gives French Tips her demo CD to listen to. Meanwhile, Barb starts seeing Nickel, despite the man already being married. He gets her to perform in his own band, but Barb doesn't support Patti's aspirations of being a rapper.

    Patti and Basterd are walking together down the street. Basterd tells her he wants to hop on a train and leave the town. Patti mentions wanting to get signed by O-Z, to which Basterd says she shouldn't get wrapped up in idolizing guys like him. She makes a comment on how Basterd is always quiet and goes about things alone, causing him to ride away and leave Patti alone.

    While Patti is working, Barb calls her and tells her that Nana is in the hospital. When Patti gets there, she learns that Nana suffered a stroke.

    One afternoon, Patti is sent to work at the home of O-Z. Ray instructs her to make O-Z a particular absinthe-based drink. Patti makes the drink and brings her demo CD for O-Z. She spits some rhymes, but O-Z is unimpressed. He scoffs at the demo CD and dismisses Patti as a "culture vulture". Ray is upset with Patti's work and he fires her.

    Patti goes to visit Nana in the hospital. She wakes up and says she's sorry she won't be able to make Patti's show.

    Patti joins Jheri and Basterd at the strip club. Discouraged by what O-Z said and after getting fired, Patti is unable to perform their set, leading to her having a falling out with Jheri. At the same time, Barb is performing with Nickel's band, NJPD Blues, at Lou's, where she gets wasted and falls off the counter, spraining her ankle.

    Patti goes to the hospital, only to see Barb sitting in Nana's empty bed. She tells Patti that Nana has gone to visit Pop-Pop. The two later go to Nana's funeral. Patti learns that Nickel has left Barb and gone back to his wife. Barb learns that Patti got fired by Ray. Patti also quits Lou's when one of the drunk patrons goes up to the stage to read her raps mockingly.

    The Dombrowski ladies both dejectedly watch TV. Patti gets a call, thinking it's someone calling to demand the bills for Nana's medicine. It's really DJ French Tips calling to tell Patti she liked what she heard from the demo CD. She tells Patti that she submitted her name for a competition for that weekend in Newark called the Rookie Monster. Patti thanks French Tips, and her spirits are suddenly lifted.

    Patti goes to find Basterd in his place as he is preparing to leave the town behind and go off on his own. She starts to tell him about the upcoming show and how she has felt insecure about her performing, and Basterd tells her she has more talent and passion than anyone in town. The two start to make out, and Basterd says his real name is Bob. They then have sex, but Patti wakes up to find that Basterd has disappeared.

    Patti goes to the pharmacy to reconcile with Jheri. He forgives her and also alludes to knowing about her and Basterd.

    Patti goes to visit Nana's grave. Basterd is there, only without his contact lens or piercings. He brings Patti to the grave of his mother, saying that he's been telling her about Patti. Later when Patti goes home, she finds that Barb threw out one of her old records from when she performed as Barb Wire.

    On the day of the Rookie Monster, Patti asks Barb to do her hair for her in exchange for buying her cigarettes. Barb cuts and dyes Patti's hair in time for the show.

    Patti, Jheri, and Basterd go to Newark for the show. They learn that O-Z is up on the balcony watching the show. Patti is impressed by the rapper named Nomad (Kirk Knight). Patti and her friends are set to perform next. She is completely nervous as everyone mocks her, with one person chucking a water bottle at her. Patti then musters up the courage to start spitting raps as Barb walks in to watch her perform. To her surprise, they used a sampling of one of her old songs, "Tuff Love", which incorporates Barb's lyrics into the song. The crowd goes wild as they love Patti's raps. Patti even gets Barb to personally sing the chorus. The two embrace as the crowd cheers. Ultimately, Nomad wins the competition, but that doesn't get Patti down.

    After the show, Patti and Barb part ways as Barb lets Patti be with her friends. Patti goes to her hang-out spot with Jheri and Basterd. As they listen to the radio, they hear DJ French Tips announcing what has become the most requested song, their very own "PBNJ". The three cheer and embrace each other as their song plays over the radio.

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