Kicks full movie review - "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.