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Josiah David Warren
Josiah David Warren,
Valentino is a mediocre con artist who crosses paths with Kwan, a fellow con artist. Together, they impersonate various people and create numerous schemes to make money. Meanwhile, gangsters are making a scheme of their own.
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In a virtually all-white Iowa town, Flip daydreams of being a hip-hop star, hanging with Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre. He practices in front of a mirror and with his two pals, James and Trevor. He talks Black slang, he dresses Black. He's also a wannabe pusher, selling flour as cocaine. And while he talks about "keeping it real," he hardly notices real life around him: his father's been laid off, his mother uses Food Stamps, his girlfriend is pregnant, James may be psychotic, one of his friends (one of the town's few Black kids) is preparing for college, and, on a trip to Chicago to try to buy drugs, the cops shoot real bullets. What will it take for Flip to get real?Written by
A smart and funny movie that challenges us to take a look at ourselves.
Being from Iowa, I am usually offended by stereotypical portrayals of Iowans as dumb farmers, oblivious to the real world. That said, I really liked this movie. Part of it is the fun of seeing familiar places and landmarks (bridges, bars, cop cars, local personalities), but I also was intrigued by the story.
Most reviews I've read about this movie criticize the makers for trying to run on one joke for 90 minutes. Instead, I think the audience laughs because the characters (especially Flip) are trying so pitifully hard. Flip is like any teenager (in Iowa or elsewhere) who's searching for his spot in the world. He doesn't like his life (what teenager does?) and he is drawn to the "idea" of the ghetto he gets from music videos. His fantasies are so opposite from what he knows -wealth, women, recognition. In his fantasy world, everyone fits into the slots he gives them with no questions. The problem is he can't separate his fantasy from reality, and when reality slaps him in the face (Chicago) he is forced to take a look at who he really is - a faulted, bigoted, everyday person.
It's hard to face our faults, and the filmmakers must use an exaggerated character with exaggerated actions in an extreme situation to make this seem less like a cheesy story about some loser wannabes with no clue and more like a paradoxical look at facing ourselves. Without this movie's extreme and often sad backdrop, I would write it off as another "we're more cultured than you, aren't Iowans dumb" story. Instead, I think this is a smart, biting story that challenges us to take a look past what we want everyone else to see and examine who we are underneath, faults and all.
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