The Land full movie review - This story is about a group of kids who steal some Molly to fund their skateboarding dreams and the consequence that comes with stealing from a drug dealer and her crew.
Trigger Warning(s): Attempted Rape | Gun Violence | Drug Use
Characters Worth Noting Cisco (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) | Junior (Moises Arias) | Patty Cake (Rafi Gavron) | Boobie (Ezri Walker) | Elliot (Robert Hunter) | Momma (Linda Emond)
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
Who in the world wants to take up a trade? Not Cisco's crew. They want to become pro skateboarders but, problem is, the entry fee to get noticed is around $150 and they don't have fancy cameras or computers. They some poor kids from Cleveland. However, things get better as their stealing cars gig leads to Junior finding a camera, and Cisco finding some molly, which the group sells. The issue with them selling Molly though is that it belongs to Momma, who may seem like a sweet small business owner, but is a bit gangster. On top of that, one of her main soldiers, Elliot, is a hot head who, with his biker gang, have no problems firing off some rounds. Leading to the usual question when it comes to movies like this: Who is going to die, when will it happen in the movie, how will everyone react, and why is it the writer chose to end things the way they did?
Moises Aries, perhaps solely due to his face being recognizable, sort of shined in this to me. Granted, we spent almost as much time with his family as Cisco's, and he was the jokester of the group, but I do feel that he perhaps was the one dim star in this film.
Also, Emond as Momma was a bit of a surprise. She is a familiar face, but I feel, ever so slightly, for those like me not too familiar with her filmography, this role was just a smidge, "You better ask somebody."
One issue I consistently have with movies is the inability to feel. Characters inspiring empathy, for me, is a driving force behind deciding whether a film is Worth Seeing or TV Viewing. With this film, unfortunately, I find myself rocking between Skip It and TV Viewing. Reason being, the leads, be it because of their characters or the script, or maybe because some of the actors don't have a lot of experience as leads, they just don't latch onto you.
Breaking things down a bit, you are given the information needed to recognize these are a bunch of kids. A bunch of kids who don't necessarily want to work hard, for the most part, and simply want easy cash. Not to the point of joining a gang and becoming full-time drug dealers, but if they could become pro skateboarders that would be cool. So, it is established they are kids and think like kids. From there comes the sort of cheap sympathy. Be it Patty Cake having a kid he can barely feed; Junior's mom being young and a single mother of two, and Junior being someone his little sister looks up to; Cisco's mom dying from an overdose and him being raised by one recovering addict and one who has little intention getting clean; then Bobbie who seems like a good kid with a bad crew of friends. Altogether, perhaps on paper, they seem like they can be rich characters, but between the story we are given and the way these characters are portrayed, you don't get any breakout performances out of this. You recognize the accomplishment for them all to have finished this movie and for it to be released, but with tired clichés for backgrounds and no one really taking or given the chance to shine, this movie seems so average that the better word to describe it may be generic.
On The Fence
Roughly there are 300+ movies within the Movie label and over the course of 4 years watching blockbusters, indie movies, VOD titles, and TV movies, I have learned that comparisons will make most average movies seem like crap. This is an average movie. None of the actors have had consistent starring roles, and for many their filmography isn't that long or this is their first movie. With that you can't compare this film, as some have, to Dope. Yes, names like Erykah Badu, Nas, and Michael K. Williams are attached, but there comes a point where you got to realize for the next generation of actors of color to rise, they have to have the support of those who made it. Granted, their support doesn't mean much more than name recognition, but it still matters.