Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete

Release date: October 11, 2013
Running time: 108 minutes
Starring: Skylan Brooks, Ethan Dizon, Jennifer Hudson, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agdaje, Jordin Sparks
Who to see it with: Someone looking for real, but not overly dark, urban drama 


Mister and Pete are the thirteen and nine-year-old boys at the center of this urban drama. The neighbors struggle with life in the New York projects, especially once they have to fend for themselves after Mister's mother (Hudson) gets into trouble. (Pete's mom can't assist them for various reasons.) Pete is Korean, a surprise because impoverished Asians are rarely represented in American media. Brooks and Dizon carry the movie, both looking and acting like real troubled kids. Mister has been hardened by his community and his mother's illicit work. He initially rebuffs Pete, but a need for companionship and Pete's innocence eventually make them friends. The two find that they can only rely on one another; others are reluctant to help, and the police will just take them to the local children's home that isn't much better than the streets.

Urban dramas are sometimes overwhelmingly depressing. Mister & Pete explores a number of sad realities of poverty, but generally maintains a sense of hope. As implied by the Inevitable portion of the title, there's a common sense of feeling trapped and wishing for escape. Many won't achieve their loftiest goals, but they find other reasons to go on. Mister's use of street smarts and Pete's childish attitude provide occasional moments of levity even while they're searching for money and food. Supporting characters make big impressions with limited time, especially the boys' addict mothers and local drug dealer Kris (Anthony Mackie). The direction occasionally feels a bit heavyhanded but the story avoids being preachy. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete is a bleak, but hopeful look at poverty's effect on urban youth, lead by an interesting pairing of black and Asian kids.

See it.

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