GRIDLOCK'D A film review by Steve Rhodes Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): * 1/2
GRIDLOCK'D is a seemingly low budget film that covers the same ground as TRAINSPOTTING, but not as imaginatively. Both films are comedies about heroin addicts. Almost all critics, but not this one, loved TRAINSPOTTING. The main claim to fame for GRIDLOCK'D is that it stars the murdered rap singer Tupac Shakur. The picture is the directorial and screenwriting debut of the actor Vondie Curtis-Hall (Captain Prince in the recent ROMEO AND JULIET), who also plays the part of the major bad guy, D-Reper.
After Cookie (played by Thandie Newton who was the star of FLIRTING) has a drug overdose and appears on the verge of death, Spoon (Shakur) decides to give up drugs. He even coerces his friend Stretch (Tim Roth) to give up drugs too.
The premise of the show is a Kafkaesque tale of their inability to fight through the bureaucracy to get on Medicaid so they can get into a drug detox center. After they sell a non-existent camcorder to D-Reper, the parallel plot in the show has D-Reper and his henchman (Tom Towles) trying to kill Spoon and Stretch.
As they have trouble getting their Medicaid cards, they enjoy many a pleasurable moment shooting heroin up their arms. The show never made me believe for a minute that these guys had any intention of giving up something that sent them into such ecstasy. Spoon, for example, talks in glowing terms about "his first time" -- to shoot up that is. "It was like going back to the womb," he dreamily describes it. "It was peace."
I did believe that they were finding the government rules to be an infinite maze and government workers to be lazy and uncaring. Of course, that Stretch would scream and cuss them out probably did not motivate the clerks whose help they needed. My favorite scene in the entire film has one clerk using their own language back at them to tell them off.
Although highly derivative, many of the scenes are funny. One features a blind Vietnam vet (Howard Hesseman) with a dog named Nixon. He trashes a social services office and accidentally provides the cover for our protagonists to make a fast exit from the law.
Too much of the film is one long chase scene. At least we do get the great director and sometime actor John Sayles in a cameo role as "Cop # 1."
I liked the film better than I thought I would, but still it is not much of movie.
GRIDLOCK'D runs 1:31. It is rated R for frequent hard drug usage of various forms, for violence, for lots of profanity and for nudity. I do not think the picture is appropriate for teenagers. Personally, I would have rated the film NC-17. I laughed some, but can not recommend the movie. I give it * 1/2.
**** = A must see film. *** = Excellent show. Look for it. ** = Average movie. Kind of enjoyable. * = Poor show. Don't waste your money. 0 = Totally and painfully unbearable picture.
REVIEW WRITTEN ON: January 23, 1997
Opinions expressed are mine and not meant to reflect my employer's.
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