Follow TV Tropes


Film / Let It Shine

Go To

Let It Shine is a 2012 Disney Channel musical. Based on the classic play Cyrano de Bergerac, it's notable in that all the main characters are black.

The film stars a young busboy named Cyrus who dreams of being a hip-hop rapper, but the words of his peers and his pastor father make it seem as though he would never succeed. Under the name "Truth", he enters a contest sponsored by the same music label that once hired a childhood friend of his (named "Roxie" Andrews). However, due to a mistake when looking at the photograph Cyrus sent in, it is his best friend Kris that ends up with the glory. At first, Cyrus accepts staying in the background and helping Kris try to win Roxie's heart, but he eventually gains some self-respect, learns to stand up for himself, convinces his father that hip-hop can be a positive thing, and succeeds at his dream.

This film features the following tropes:

  • Battle Rapping: The final scene has Cyrus rapping against Lord of Da Bling, the former prevailing in the process after revealing the latter's secret as a taxi driver.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Lord of da Bling is effectively the film's main antagonist and a constant thorn in Cyrus' side, but Cyrus is also opposed by his own father, who— while far from a bad person— is still standing in his son's way of becoming a successful rapper.
  • Break the Haughty: Cyrus' final verse in "Moment of Truth" has him viciously tearing into Bling's fake persona, exposing him as nothing but a fraud who pretends to be rich in order to cover up his minimum wage job and give him excuse to pick on others. Bling is left utterly humiliated by the end.
  • Broken Pedestal: Da Bling, after his secret (that he isn't actually rich, and works a minimum-wage job) is exposed to the crowd by Cyrus during the climatic rap battle.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Cyrus and Bling's rivalry begins when Cyrus tries to give him some well-meaning constructive criticism on his rapping style. Bling responds by climbing on stage, pointing Cyrus out, and verbally accosting him in front of the entire club.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Cyrus' father is punished with this by his wife for humiliating Roxie during one of his church sermons.
  • Extreme Doormat: Cyrus is too much of a Nice Guy for his own good. He actually lets Kris claim his contest entry as his own just so that Kris can have a chance with Roxie, even though he has a crush on her himself.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: During their final rap battle, Cyrus exposes Bling's true nature as a showboater who flexes his nonexistent wealth in an attempt to cover up his insecurities about being poor. While Cyrus sympathizes with him to a degree, he makes it clear that Bling's background is zero excuse for his constant mistreatment of others, especially since he has the audacity to lie about the very things he picks on Cyrus for and since Rags to Riches stories are very respected within the rap community, making the lies pointless to begin with.
    Cyrus: And what's funny is your truth is enough!
    Why'd you have to make up all the money and the stuff?
    I guess it's easier to play the role and act hard,
  • Friendlessness Insult: During the rap battle between Cyrus and Bling, one of Bling's taunts to Cyrus is that he has zero Facebook friends, before launching into how much of a loser he is.
  • Girl Next Door Turned Superstar: Cyrus has a huge crush on a popstar named Roxie, and has since they went to the same elementary school together.
  • Hate Sink: Despite having some Hidden Depths to explain his behavior, Lord of da Bling is still an arrogant, obnoxious bully whose refusal to see the error of his ways leads to a well-deserved humiliation.
  • Hidden Depths: During the daytime, Bling is nothing but an unassuming cab driver who presumably doesn't make much money, which is likely the reason why he's such a Jerkass by night.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Bling's arrogant attitude and constant showboating are implied to be due to his insecurities about being a poor taxi driver during the day time.
  • Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist: Cyrus, the protagonist of the film, is so plagued by self-doubt and shyness that he lets his friend steal his rightful spotlight and alias. Meanwhile, the rapping champion, Bling, is incredibly arrogant and boastful, bragging about his wealth and talent while treating everyone else like dirt. In their Rap Battle, Bling spends his verses trying to tear down Cyrus's self-esteem but gets defeated when Cyrus exposes his secret to the audience, making it impossible for him to continue being arrogant once everyone knew he wasn't actually rich.
  • Jerkass: Lord of da Bling, an obnoxious, egotistical bully who goes out of his way to harass Cyrus at every opportunity.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • By contrast, Chris, while also pretty arrogant and self-absorbed, still deeply cares about Cyrus and pulls a Jerkass Realization in time for the climax… something that Bling can never bring himself to do.
    • Cyrus' father, Jacob, also cares deeply about his son despite his constant rudeness towards him. When he comes to realize that Cyrus' lyrics are his way of communicating his feelings and even noting the biblical influences within, he too comes to a Jerkass Realization and supports him during his showdown against Bling.
  • Mistaken Identity: Roxie comes to believe that Kris is Truth when it's actually Cyrus.
  • Money Slap: During the rap battle between Cyrus and Bling, Bling ends one particularly insulting verse by throwing a stack of cash at Cyrus to hammer in the point that Cyrus isn't as cool or rich as he is, telling him to "buy a better outfit" with it. This tactic backfires, because Cyrus turns the table on him by revealing that Bling isn't rich, but is instead just a low-class cab driver. He offers the thrown money back "as a tip" if he drives them back home.
  • Monochrome Casting: About 85% of the cast is Black.
  • Nice Guy: Cyrus, whose extreme kindness actually causes him more trouble than it's worth.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: Bling has little to do with the main plot and simply acts as both The Rival and a Foil to Cyrus and Chris.
  • Preacher's Kid: Cyrus, which is part of the reason why his dream seems almost unreachable- his father is so religious and opposed to rap music that Cyrus has to sneak out just to work at the club.
  • Rap Is Crap: Cyrus's father believes that hip-hop is corrupting the youth, forcing Cyrus to hide his own interest and talent at rap. When Roxie revisits the town and church, she's shamed in front of everyone else. He eventually relents after hearing more of their music.
  • The Rival: Lord of da Bling serves as this to both Cyrus and Chris, with the former being his main bullying target and the latter being a regular adversary during rap battles.
  • Shout-Out: A deleted scene from the extended edition (advertised in trailers on Disney Channel) shows Cyrus facing off against Bling in a rap battle and utterly schooling him, which is capped off by Cyrus saying "That's ten better disses than you, I beat myself, something you couldn't do." This is no doubt a modern take on the famous scene in Cyrano de Bergerac where Cyrano berates a passer-by for failing to insult him in a creative enough fashion.
  • Shrinking Violet: Cyrus at the beginning of the movie. He's even in the background compared to Kris in the picture of the two of them that he mails to Roxie. No wonder she thought Kris was the contestant.
  • Token White: Lyla is the only White major character.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Bling is a massive Jerkass who deserves to be knocked down several (dozen) notches, but he doesn't do anything outright illegal or physically harmful.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Cyrus, who seeks approval from his overbearing and zealous father.