The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete
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58 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

This film needs a much higher rating

Author: nettrice from United States
26 January 2013

I saw this film at Sundance and the cast and crew got about four standing ovations. People who raved about Fruitvale said this film tops it. This a great film! This film is a cross between Spike Lee's Clockers (1995) and Hirokazu Koreeda's Nobody Knows (2004), with a bit of Fresh (1994) mixed in. Based on a true story, Nobody Knows portrays siblings who are abandoned by their mother and forced to survive on their own. Resiliency is a trait of many urban kids. Even in tragedy they were just kids. Mister and Pete doesn't try to let the audience "off the hook". The performances pull you in, or at least it did for me.

I was surprised to see how low the ratings were for this film.

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34 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Amazing actors telling an often overlooked story

Author: meganmcgee from United States
4 October 2013

I was lucky to see this at the Milwaukee Film Festival with the director, writer and two leads in attendance. The children who play the 2 main characters gave incredibly honest and nuanced performances, especially considering the harsh reality of the characters. Skylan Brooks has some real acting chops and I can't wait to see what he does next.

Apparently it took quite a while to get the film funded and then distributed - until some bigger names like Jennifer Hudson signed on, they studios responded saying "No one will pay to see a film about inner city children." This film, however, is not only important (because of its oft overlooked subjects) but also beautifully told with compelling characters. I found myself laughing as well as gasping in shock, sitting on the edge of my seat, and tearing up.

Even 5 days after seeing it, I'm still thinking about it and how this story plays out every day. Now that's a well told story!

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20 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

And the pain of hunger and heat

Author: Peter Black
1 February 2014

I'd bet a lot of white people look at this movie at first glance in a 'Blindside' type of way. This isn't a black movie or a white movie or a white guilt type of movie or exploitation type of movie.

The Inevitable defeat of Mister and Pete is just a good movie about a young boy with dreams, in a terrible spot. His mother is doped out, he lives in a rough neighborhood and there is no way for things to get better (even though he aspires to become an actor and make a better life for himself).

When the police crack down on the drug trade in his neighborhood, his mother is picked up. Mister and Pete (the young boy who was staying at his apartment because his mother was on a binge) spend the summer trying to survive and stay out of riverside orphanage.

A hallowing story about life--not black life or the ghetto, a story about life when things are bad and all that matters is surviving, the Inevitable defeat of Mister and Pete takes the viewer into a world they most likely never see.

This movie had a great message of survival and perseverance and hope and left me believing, if I just keep living and fighting, everything will work out.

The dialogue at times was a little forced, I felt, to convey the situation of helplessness--but I can live with that, as the script on a whole was pretty good. It's hard to convey so much with just dialogue and I thought the writer, Michael Starrbury did a pretty good job.

It was well Directed, but George Tillman Jr has proved he is an elite director imo.

Skylan Brooks (Mister) probably set himself up to be in countless movies in the future and I'd like to see him in a comedy next.

Jennifer Hudson, even though she didn't have that many lines was able to fulfill her role perfectly.

This was a good movie and definitely worth the time it took to watch it.

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23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

The story of two neglected, young boys trying to survive on their own in the harsh

Author: tilona-moore from NYC
11 October 2013

This movie is all around amazing! (Acting was phenomenal!) It's so moving and so gut wrenchingly realistic, it's mind blowing. It pulls so many emotions from you at once, it will leave you breathless. I would recommend this film to anyone regardless of race or class because this story transcends all those lines. I especially recommend it for teachers, parents, and those children who are mature enough to handle the subject matter because this is something that should be discussed with the younger generation.

I saw this movie at a private screening and we had a Q&A afterwards. It was very interesting to hear people's opinion (some of whom were from similar backgrounds as the two boys ) and see how it affected the entire audience was.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

If you want to get in touch with your inner poverty

Author: ( from United States
27 December 2013

Poor minorities forced to struggle while trying to survive is what you have to look forward too. When children are involved, it hits home a little harder. The subject matter is no stranger to us. The Grapes of Wrath is where Steinbeck took us and we got large doses of prejudice, poverty and hopelessness delivered to us in a book and movie form. Here however we are exposed to the grittiness and underside of the problem mixed with crime and degradation through drug addiction to make the poverty point. I am sure anyone watching this may have a flashback or two of their own upbringing and either say I can relate or there go I but for the grace of God. It will move you that way. The young stars did excellent job and not once did they stare into the camera or let you believe they were acting. You were living it as they were and that is worth a mention. Yes to seeing this movie and it is worth the price of a ticket. Yes to definitely having a snack, tasty drink and finger foods. Parts will move you and cause you to really know...this is real and because of that may be lightly disturbing for some...Good because that is how change comes about

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The inevitable lifestyle that should be quite evitable

Author: Steve Pulaski from United States
20 February 2014

There are films like Tiny Furniture that detail a spoiled and ungrateful demographic that has all they can desire but still has the nerve to complain about trivialities in their lives. Then there are films like The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete that detail a demographic that has nothing but the clothes on their backs, local acquaintances, and the motivation of survival to get them through the day. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is a bleak, bleak film with one heartwrenching scene after another that depict a frighteningly inevitable sadness that looms over the characters of the film like a dark storm cloud.

The film takes place during a summer in the projects of New York City that has been graced with a miserable heatwave. Where center on thirteen-year-old Mister (Skylan Brooks), who lives with his heroin-addicted mother Gloria (Jennifer Hudson), who prostitutes to get by in her rough neighborhood. Mister's only companion is a nine-year-old Korean boy named Pete (Ethan Dizon), whose mother is always absent and whom looks to Mister as an older brother. After Gloria is taken by police, the two spend their summer trying to evade child protective services and living life cooped up in a small, empty apartment.

Through these children, we get an intimate portrait of what it's like not to live in the projects but survive in them. The area is incredibly tumultuous, shady adults and ominous characters lurk on every street corner, and there's almost no hope of ever escaping or rising above this morose landscape. Returning to my opening paragraph, say people outside of the United States, who weren't wholly knowledgeable on the current state of the US poverty conditions, the income inequality, or the economy, saw Tiny Furniture. They'd probably see a large part of the country as affluent and ungrateful degenerates who don't know how good they have it compared to others. Now what if we showed them The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete? If anything, I think we'd break down any preconceived stereotypes that many people in the United States don't live lavish lives of royalty, but instead, day-by-day, struggling to survive, in the self-proclaimed "greatest country in the world." But this is just one of the several reasons why The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is such a wonderful drama, bursting at the seams with stone-cold honesty and depictions of far-too-common hardships in the working class sector of urban landscapes.

At the center of the film is Skylan Brooks, who is the actor the entire film rests on. For a debut performance, Brooks could not have a bigger challenge, but he handles it superbly, painting the picture of a kid who is down but certainly not out. However, Brooks' Mister is undoubtedly vulnerable in this land, no matter the face he puts on. We almost consistently wait for the young kid to crack and breakdown, but he continues to keep on going through trying circumstances. By his side quite frequently is Ethan Dizon, whose performance is mostly wrapped in innocence and tender, young-boy geniality. He is a young boy who wouldn't hurt a fly, and occasionally seems out of the loop. But Dizon knows exactly how to portray this character with effectiveness so as not to make a helpless sidekick.

Frequently, the film reminded me of Alex Kotlowitz's There are No Children Here, a novel that meticulously detailed the lives of a family who lived in the Henry Horner Apartments, a former-public housing project in Chicago. The title came from the mother of the two boys the story focused on, and basically meant that because of all the young children have seen in their life - rape, murder, drugs, violence, gangs, among several other things - they were not children. They were practically adults because their innocence was taken at such a tender age they never had that blissful, childlike ignorance that almost all children have.

The children of the projects are totally different from the children of the suburbs, obviously, and writer Michael Starrbury makes strong note of that. While suburban children may ask their friends, "want to play at the park?" or even, "what did you think of school today," the characters of The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete ask one another, "is it okay to not love your mom?" and receive a response of, "you can't help but love her, but you can not like her."

Some will remark on the film's events as elements of emotional manipulation and desperate attempts by Starrbury and director George Tillman, Jr. to make us teary-eyed. I have seen many emotionally manipulative films in my day, and The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete doesn't classify as one of them because of the fact that it shows the reality of the situation in the projects. It shows what the news reports dare not penetrate. This film tells a story of survival by two kids who keep getting kicked down and tormented by horrid luck and a lackluster surrounding but persist on through thick-and-thin. Starrburry and Tillman, Jr. don't seem to care if you cry; they just care that you watch, listen, and learn.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

precious meets slumdog millionaire

Author: sampxmiller from United States
3 October 2013

I loved this movie! the acting was amazing, it was beautifully written and directed and the soundtrack is amazing. definitely one of my favorites this year. I loved that it is a contemporary story about what it must be like to be hungry in America and living on the edge of poverty but it is never heavy handed or melodramatic. there have been a ton of really good African American films released this year but this is the only one which is based in the here and the now versus a history lesson of one sort or another. It is also unique in that it is from a kid's perspective which is innocent and less bleak than an adult's. Also there is a great new song from Alicia keys at the end of the movie which has never been released.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Seriously? A Sad Movie isn't a Bad Movie

Author: Chris Kay from English Montreal, Canada
4 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Why did this film get such bad reviews? Because it wasn't your typical happy story, that's why. People these days (yeah I'm just an 18 year old, but still) just can't enjoy sad movies. They feel as if a movie doesn't make you happy it isn't good for some reason.


I'm here for the people who believe otherwise. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete exceeds in all aspects of film. My favorite part about it was it's unusual sense of realism.

You expect the kid to get the acting job, you expect the kid to get helped out when he's getting beaten up, you always expect the typical helping hand that every other movie protagonist gets. It made the film unpredictable and makes it feel like it's giving a more legitimate look at the struggle of the poor than most films.

The acting is also a strong point. A film revolving around child actors is always a hit or miss. This film was a hit. Skylan Brooks is one of the best child actors I've ever seen. Ethan Dizon does a good job, too. The rest of the cast was well selected, although no one stood out as much as the two leads.

Everything else, like pacing, cinematography, music, and etc... is great. It seems like the film was put together by people who knew what they were doing.


My problem with the film is personal. It just didn't impact me the way the films I rate 9 out of 10 usually do.

Don't take this as a bad thing, though, because this film has the potential to easily become one of your favorite movies.


As you can see, everyone who actually paid attention to the film (the people who wrote reviews) really enjoyed the film. By now you can probably gauge if this is the type of film you will enjoy. If you think so, give it a watch and be sure to write your own review.

8.5 out of 10

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"I can't do it alone". . . ."None of us can"

Author: doug_park2001 from United States
17 February 2014

{8.5 stars}

THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT of MISTER & PETE ("IDMP") is not quite as fully realized a story as 2009's PRECIOUS, but it has much the same atmosphere and, of course, shares the gritty down-and-out NYC setting. In other respects, it's a VERY different sort of film. Often stark, frequently amusing,IDMP goes in many unexpected directions.

Partly by necessity, it's rather slow-moving with regular bits of heavy suspense here and there. 60-70% (perhaps a bit too much) of it is confined to the abandoned apartment where the two young boys hide after Mister's mother is arrested. Though far from boring, with a number of turnabouts, IDMP may not completely satisfy those who are expecting more of an urban odyssey.

Skylan Brooks (14-year-old Mister) and Ethan Dizon (Pete, about six years younger) are naturals in their roles, and Brooks does a particularly outstanding job of acting-within-acting. Anthony Mackie also gives a laudable performance as Kris the pimp/drug dealer. Nevertheless, the characters of Mister and Pete are unconvincing in certain respects. Mister sometimes seems a bit TOO noble and crafty for a boy from his background who's failing eighth grade and usually just screams "Fuck you!" and runs off when he gets frustrated. Having said that, I think the point is that having Pete, who's been even more neglected than Mister himself, as a surrogate little brother and ally against the oppressive adult world brings out the very best in Mister, who also discovers the useful and liberating qualities of acting and role-playing in life's struggles. Pete also seems a bit too polite and well-spoken considering his age and background, but again, something would be lost if he were otherwise. One way or another, IDMP is a rich multi-character study of different people in squalid circumstances. It also shows the ethnically diverse atmosphere of Brooklyn without falling to the stereotypes we often encounter in this type of setting.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Sweet, troubling, sad, and so well acted it has to be seen

Author: secondtake from United States
28 March 2015

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete (2013)

A deeply thoughtful movie about two charming kids who end up going it alone in the projects when their addicted mother is taken away. We are taken into the bowels of a pretty realistic low income housing world in New York City. The portrayal of the dangers might actually be watered down a bit, and it feels weirdly depopulated a lot of time, but the squalor and the general grim feeling works.

What clinches this movie, and no one will argue this, is the performances of both the leading actors, Mister and Pete. Mister, an African-American kid with thoughtful eyes, is about 12 and he's weirdly calm and sanguine through all the disasters. Pete, an Asian kid with sweet innocence written all over him, is a few years younger and needs Mister's protection. The odd but true friendship between the two is a lot of the movie, but the way each has to deal with the outside world in a series of difficult (and ugly and profane) incidents is what gives it depth.

It's fair to say this movie, and its African-American director George Tillman, have been overlooked. See it. It may not take creative leaps and it may not push every button at exactly the right time, but it has the sincerity and stunning leading actors to make it an important new film.

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