Morris is a 13-year-old African-American who moves to Heidelberg with his dad, who coaches professional soccer. The film explores Morris's attempts to fit in with German kids. He falls for a girl at a youth club and she encourages him to open up a little and share his rapping.Written by
Craig Robinson was cast in the second season of the television series "Mr. Robot" as Ray after Sam Esmail (creator of the series) watched early footage of his role in this film and sought to contact his agent. See more »
Terrific Craig Robinson as supportive parent isn't enough to compensate for role of surly son and tale of teenage angst
You might remember Chris Hartigan from his second feature a few years ago, This is Martin Bonner, an offbeat indie about a volunteer counselor for a Christian-based group who has a mentoring program to rehabilitate convicts. And now Hartigan has a new offbeat film on the unusual topic of an African-American father and teenage son, living in Heidelberg, Germany.
Kudos to Hartigan for coming up a setting that we rarely get to see— i.e., African-Americans interacting with foreigners. The protagonist is Morris Gentry, the teenage son of Curtis Gentry, a coach employed by a German soccer team.
Most critics agree that the talented comedian, Craig Robinson, steals the show as Morris' father, who tries to be a good parent to his rebellious son, played by Markees Christmas. Curtis' life is made much more difficult by the lack of presence of his wife, who passed away before father and son find themselves on foreign soil. Curtis is asked to perform a balancing act with Morris, unsure as to how much discipline he should dole out. He is overprotective precisely because of both of their vulnerable positions as African-Americans—veritable strangers in a strange land. The main point is that this is a father who cares about his son and Robinson does a great job conveying his commitment and sensitivity.
While Morris is the victim of racial stereotyping by a coterie of obnoxious German teens who hang out at a local cultural center (they disparagingly refer to Morris as "Kobe Bryant" before they discover he's not a basketball player), Morris wins few points also with his surly disposition. The coming of age plot feels familiar after Morris falls for a slightly older German girl, Karin, another rebellious teenager who also has stereotyped impressions of black people—she dubs Morris a "gangsta-rapper" and eventually dumps him for a German boy who rides a motorcycle.
Most of the German kids here don't come off well at all and only Morris' tutor, Inka, provides a positive role model for the beleaguered teenager. While I appreciated Hartigan's positive focus on the father- son bonding, Markees Chirstmas is saddled with a character that lacks the requisite charm. In the end, Hartigan's plot of a teenager's lesson learned isn't enough to compensate for all of Craig Robinson's good work as the supportive parent.
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