By Paul de Revere
In a moment of narration during Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story— VH1’s much-touted TLC biopic that premiered Monday night (October 21)– Drew Sidora as Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins points out the blurring of “the lines that separated our music and personal lives.” And just as TLC’s career went, so did the movie that detailed it, blurring lines between what was fictionalized and what was real footage.
Clips from TLC appearances at the MTV Video Music Awards and GRAMMYs interweave with dramatized versions of ’90s music news to the point where it could be hard to tell the difference if you looked away from The TLC Story for a second. Sometimes, the difference was obvious, even from the film’s first scenes. Do the Instagram-glossy “home movies” of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (played by rapper Lil’ Mama, a spitfire actress) seem so authentic as to look like file footage? No. But does T-Boz’s dance off at famed ’90s Atlanta club Jellybeans feel authentic? Absolutely.
At moments, the movie must’ve felt like being through the looking glass for T-Boz and Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas (played by Keke Palmer). They produced and, evidently, had a spiritual hand guiding The TLC Story. Alongside director Charles Stone III they made sure no detail of the movie was overlooked. The TLC live sets are on point and the choreography tight. Screenwriter Kate Lanier, writer of the 1996 cult hit Set It Off, wrote dialogue so lived-in it felt like the movie’s actresses were improvising. The “Creep” video-shoot scene, with its members bickering about creative direction, features a spirited back and forth among the three actresses.