Movie Review - Kicks (2016)
Jahking Guillory stars as Brandon, the young black kid in question. He's a teenager, probably 13 or 14, maybe 15. However, he's significantly shorter than his friends or other kids his age. He also looks younger than he is. He looks like he's only 11 or 12. This makes him feel like he doesn't fit in high school. The only thing that makes him feel like he can be on equal footing with everyone else is if he has the new Air Jordan sneakers, which are the envy right now. Given that all the kids hang out on the basketball court and given how much their culture is a basketball culture, the Air Jordan sneakers make sense as a prized object of desire.
The child actors in Moonlight are going to get a heap of praise as the 89th Oscars grow nearer, but the child actors here led by Guillory are equally outstanding, if not more so. Guillory, through narration mostly, is able to be more verbal than the child actors in Moonlight. Yet, he comports himself extremely well and delivers the beats, a lot of the same beats as in Moonlight, with just as much heart. Christopher Meyer (NCIS: New Orleans and Wayward Pines) who plays Rico and Christopher Jordan Wallace (Notorious and Everything Must Go) who plays Albert are excellent in their roles as Brandon's best friends and sidekicks. Both are funny, charming and my hope is to see them on screen again soon.
|Kofi Siriboe in 'Kicks'|
Whether knowingly or not, director and co-writer Justin Tipping in his feature debut channels August Wilson. Tipping also embraces a little magical realism in the form of an astronaut who frequently visits Brandon. It's not a hallucination or an injection of science-fiction as in Donnie Darko. It's merely a visual metaphor of how Brandon feels through this story. It's also a clever way to connect to Mahershala Ali's other film this year, Hidden Figures, which also involves astronauts.
Rated for violence, drug / alcohol use, language and sexual content involving teens.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 27 mins.