No one wants to reminisce about when they were thirteen years old.
In fact, no one wants to be thirteen years old; especially when you’re moving to a new neighborhood — scratch that, new country — and are going to be the only black kid in town. That pretty much eliminates any initial chances of fitting in.
Morris (Markees Christmas) has this problem. In director Chad Hartigan’s newest film, MORRIS FROM AMERICA, we see the pinnacle of awkward middle school angst: Morris and his father, Curtis (Craig Robinson) have just moved to Heidelberg, Germany for Curtis’s job as a professional soccer coach. Morris doesn’t want to be in Germany; Morris wants to be back in the States, working on his dream of becoming a rapper. There’s no way he wants to put himself out there, barely knowing the language, and make friends. But when even his language instructor, Inka (Carla Juri) tells him that he needs to go out and meet people his own age, Morris decides to go to the local youth club.
Almost instantly, Morris meets a girl. For a thirteen year old, puppy love is a big deal, and when Katrin (Lina Keller) pays attention to him, it’s an even bigger deal. But Katrin hangs with a racy crowd, and the more Morris wants to be cool (in tune with his “gangsta rapper” ambitions), the more trouble he finds himself in.
Hartigan gracefully meshes relatable characters with unique circumstances, resulting in a completely fresh perspective for this coming-of-age story — while it is already natural for a thirteen year old to feel alienated, the scenario is a little more stacked for Morris as he is thrust into a completely different world. And the relationship between Morris and his father feels completely natural and ingrained — there is still the stern quality of parenthood in Robinson’s performance, but it is clear that father and son are also friends. This is largely due to the chemistry that Robinson and Christmas bring to the screen: they are perfectly cast.
With its high energy and realistic undertones, MORRIS FROM AMERICA is a delight. Starting 9/9 at Midtown Cinema!