Straight Outta Tompkins full movie review - You guys are kidding right?
This kid went to NYU too so I watched his movie last night and felt compelled to review it after seeing that it got a SEVENTY EIGHT PERCENT ON ROTTEN TOMATOES.
Good news first yo.
It definitely has some positive aspects. The camera was definitely expensive and the film includes some great shots of New York, especially during the opening montage, where the camera work was expertly done. In fact, if you took out the cheesy voice-over part, I'd say that the opening montage was the only part of this movie that I might call world-class. Great cinematography and production, especially given the budget, which was quite skimpy for a move filmed inside NYC. The hip hop soundtrack was fun though maybe a little bit poser-ish in context. Also, it is pretty hard to be bored during a drug/crime movie. At least it was entertaining.
Now to the bad.
The story was boiler plate, it seemed lifted from an archive of templates, generic. Who hasn't heard the heroin addiction thing a million times? Also, the whole premise of the movie, the family situation, the baseball scholarship, et cetera, seemed a little out of left field (yukyukyuk), meaning that it didn't make a whole lot of sense and made the movie feel forced and unconvincing. In general the plot was sort of a swing and a miss. There wasn't much of a genuine feeling at any point during the movie, it felt fake and it said nothing new.
The periodic voice-over parts were Straight Outta Tompkins's fatal mistake. They actually made the movie pretty painful to watch at certain points. In the beginning Gene (the narrator) talks about how nobody but real New Yorkers know the real New York and ironically points out how he's more dangerous than the corner boys even though he's a privileged white boy. Yawn. The voice-over Gene also painstakingly narrates even simple aspects of the story which are totally unnecessary to explain. To put it shortly and free of spoilers, the voice-over is completely idiot proof which, to me, signifies an actor who is not talented (or perhaps practiced) enough to let his acting tell its own story. Sounds a bit harsh, but it's true. The production was good but the acting and writing were second or maybe even third rate to be completely honest.
All-in-all I give this movie a C-minus, which in filmmaking is kind of worse than an F. At least an F has personality. Also, on a side note, it appears that the star/director/writer may have literally had his hand held by his parents throughout the entire production process, which is in ironic contrast to the plot of the movie where the main character is totally left to his own devices. Whoopi Goldberg pops in without credit for like two scenes. I wonder if she's a family friend... Anyway, this more entertaining than watching the Food Network or the news or something like that, so if you're supremely bored and want to experiment with something cringe-worthy, throw it on! It's pretty entertaining for a variety of reasons, not all of which are mean spirited.