Kicks

2016

Adventure / Drama

48
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 71%
IMDb Rating 6.3 10 3246

Synopsis


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Paul Allaer 7 / 10

"Sometime I wish I had a spaceship"

"Kicks" (2016 release; 80 min.) brings the story of Brandon, a 14 or 15 yr. old kid in "East Bay", as we are reminded at the beginning of the movie. Brandon has a hard time fitting in, dreaming that "sometimes I wish I had a spaceship", so that he wouldn't have to worry about being chased or fitting in. He pines for Air Jordan sneakers (a/k/a "kicks"). After saving up and earning extra dough selling candy, Brandon is finally able to buy the much coveted black-and-red Air Jordans, but within a day, he is savagely ambushed and robbed by a gang in the hood. Brendan is determined to somehow get his sneakers back... To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the feature length debut from writer-director Justin Tipping. He brings us an insight look at the African-American culture in the Oakland/Bay area, where image and perception apparently are paramount. To not have decent sneakers is to not belong. To not be a 'tough' guy is to be dismissed by girls and guys alike. BEWARE: the movie does not hold back on anything, not in the least the violence that apparently is rampant in those circles. The ambush of Brandon, where a gang robs him of his newly-purchased Air Jordans, is vicious and repugnant. It almost made me leave the theater. Then a strange thing happened: Brandon's quest to regain his sneakers becomes a journey towards self-discovery that becomes mesmerizing, aided along the way by his imaginary/alter ego spaceman who guides him when he desperately needs help. Whether the movie accurately reflects what life is like in that segment of the African-American community, or simply stereotypes it, I couldn't possibly tell you, but what I saw displayed on the big screen made me shake my head on more than one occasion. It's possible, if not likely, that these things are simply incomprehensible for a middle-class white guy like myself...

"Kicks" debuted with critical acclaim at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. It opened this weekend without any pre-release fanfare or advertising at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Friday evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (only 2 people besides myself), and I can't see this playing very long in the theater. If you are in the mood for a tough "boys in the hood" tale that exposes/clarifies the importance of sneakers and other bling, this might just be the movie for you, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.

Reviewed by Amari-Sali 8 / 10

After hustling for a little while, a kid gets a nice pair of kicks which are stolen by a local hoodlum. Leading to a journey to get them back.

Trigger Warning(s): Gun Shots and Blood

Review (with Spoilers)

Noted Actor(s)

Brandon (Jahking Guillory) | Albert (Christopher Jordan Wallace) | Rico (Christopher Meyer) | Flaco (Kofi Siriboe) | Jeremiah (Michael Smith Jr.)

Storyline

Brandon is poor. So poor that while his friends Rico and Albert have a fresh pair of kicks, Brandon's look like he got them at least one or two years ago. So with him hustling candy bars to get some nice shoes, naturally when someone takes them he wants to get them back. Problem is, the person who took them is Flaco. A local hoodlum who is definitely about that life but can Brandon step up, either with help or on his own, and take back what's his? Or is he still a boy and not yet a man?

Highlights

This Movie Will Get You Hyped

I'm not sure who of you out there may have gone to an urban movie, in a theater which mostly caters to Blacks and Hispanics, and had that one person who decided to vocalize or express how a particular scene made them feel. Well, let me tell you that person may end up being you with this movie. Something about the way violence happens, the way jokes go down, and how the characters interact is very authentic. To the point you almost one to join in and comment as if they going to look at you and laugh, tell you to shut up, or something like that.

The Topic of Manhood, Friendship, and Innocence

In the film, there are not real roles for women. Pretty much it is all about the friendships between men, loss of innocence, be it with sex or violence, and what it means to be a man. We see this in a few ways. The first, and unfortunate way, deals with the boys having sex or getting with a young woman. Like many a coming of age film, sex is a symbol of manhood but, unfortunately, the film is an example of toxic masculinity. Perhaps making you wonder why this is a highlight? Well, because in the movie you see how such a thing forms.

Take Flaco's little brother, or son, Jeremiah. From what it seems, Flaco takes that kid with him everywhere. Be it him going to a party to get high, drunk, and maybe feel up on a shorty, or to watch people ride around in cars. The boy, who can't be older than 10, observes, absorbs, and with him singing a lyric, seeing how comfortable he is around guns and violence, you see how Flaco has normalized that in his life. Making it so, even at such a young age, his innocence is gone. Naivety about the life Flaco lives is not only non-existent but discouraged. Manhood is presented as taking what you want, defending and keeping what's yours, and violence is a norm and not a last resort.

Criticism

Ain't One Positive Depiction of Black Women in the Whole Movie

When you watch the credits you'll see the name of a few girls like Alexa and Mercedez, but will have a hell of a time trying to remember who the hell was that. Reason being, women solely play the role of someone to mess around with in this movie. If they aren't grinding up on someone, they are as ghetto as possible. If they aren't in the process of having sex, they are about to. I mean, to my surprise we didn't end up seeing a crackhead saying they would suck one of the leads members for a dollar.

But to add insult to injury, we don't even get to see Brandon's, Albert's, or Rico's mom. The only mother, much less woman, who isn't problematic is Brandon's grandma and she has a non-speaking role and is bed ridden.

On The Fence

It's All About Sneakers

It all really boils down to sneakers. If you dig deeper you can find other things to note and talk about but, no matter how you look at it, Brandon's passage to being the local definition of a man came from some sneakers. Of which, so much nonsense happens that, paired with the negative depiction of women, it makes it hard to say, without pause, you like this film in such a politically correct world.

Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)

Reviewed by ipulito-45220 10 / 10

Kicks

I was fortunate enough to be in the audience of the first screening of Kicks at the Tribeca Film Festival. It's an incredibly fresh and original film that addresses issues of masculinity and violence in modern times. I was actually left in tears as the credits rolled at the end of the film -- contemplating how violent the world we live in is. Yet, there's hope in Kicks, a beautiful hope that we can change and choose to move away from violence represented by the youngest character's choice at the end of the film. The performances from the cast are astonishing, especially the three young actors that play close friends in a frightening world with an honest and humor that is essential in real life. It's entertaining and touching. The use of music and visuals -- all the tools at a filmmaker's disposal are embraced to their fullest. It's hard to describe in words. You just have to experience it. So, go see it. I'm excited to see what's to come from these filmmakers.

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