No one would have thought four years ago that R. Kelly could record anything more infamous than the tape allegedly showing him engaging in sexual activities with a minor. That video earned him a day in court. But late last year he released the long-form video of his hit Trapped in the Closet that is a masterpiece of Ed Wood proportions.
His "urban operetta" purports to tell the story of Sylvester (Kelly) who wakes up in a strange woman's bed one morning. And this being an operetta, he starts to singing. He realizes he has to get home to his own wife and sings about that as well. But then her husband arrives. And then the husband's boyfriend. And all of that has to be sung about, too. Then there's some more story, sung of course, involving his wife, her lover, her lover's white trash wife who also has a Mister (I won't spoil that surprise). And all the while Sylvester and cast sing-a-long, for the entirety of the 12 chapters and 40 minutes of what Kelly claims is just the first installment of his masterpiece.
With each gaping plot hole and character redevelopment, what begins as just plain 'bad' becomes a living, breathing shit machine -- as if Kelly had reanimated dung and taught it to speak, then to sing, then to write and, allegedly storyboard and co-direct.
And Kelly is detail oriented. A man just can't sing about opening a cabinet door and then open it. There needs to be tension. He needs to sing about how he's GOING to open the cabinet door. And the camera needs to look at him, from the point of view of the cabinet door, as he sings again, that he's going to open the cabinet door. And then again, with crescendo. And again, more crescendo! And again UNTIL ... UNTIL ...! ... But, to tell would ruin the surprise.
The film is 40 minutes, but the spectacle is 80, thanks again to Kelly who recorded a commentary track (you can skip the self-congratulatory behind the scenes documentary). Instead of just watching the film again, this time with his voiceover, we're treated to watching R. Kelly, cigar in hand, watch the film on a large flat screen TV from a sofa chair. And thank God for us, R. Kelly doesn't quite understand the concept of director's commentary.
Kelly seems to think it means for a director to parrot the dialogue and action on screen as if you are hard of hearing and he's fulfilling some sort of community service. When Sylvester sings at the beginning that he wants to handle a predicament Christian-like, Kelly turns to the camera to tell us that his character, in this scene, wants to handle this situation Christian-like. It's the greatest sketch "Mr. Show" never did.
He's also quite please with himself for using rhyme. He compliments himself repeatedly for this accomplishment, in fact. People, he tells us, are usually so mesmerized by the story that they don't realize that the lyrics rhyme. And I'll repeat that again: There are people - in this world that you and I live in - who don't realize that his lyrics rhyme.
Not when a story's this good, they don't. - Mr. Anon
Mr. Anon is a prominent music video director who fears for his personal safety for this scathing review. He is still building his nest egg and hopes to one day help Mr. Kelly find his groove again.