Writer/Director Chad Hartigan's thoughtful fish-out-of-water story hit all the right notes and makes Morris From America one of the real treats of the early fall season. Witty, a bit wild and well intentioned Morris From America not only showcases young talent, Markees Christmas, but is subtle and powerful enough for a comedian like Craig Robinson to shine brightly. Click through for my full review of A24's latest quality film.
"It's Always a Girl, Man". Chad Hartigan's script for Morris From America is one of the more entertaining and enlightened looks at teenage life abroad. Sundance took notice and gave Chad the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. They also shouted out to the wonderful performance from a comedy vet. U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance – Craig Robinson. Morris From America's premise is pretty easy to understand.
Morris from America centers on Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas, in an incredible breakout performance) a 13-year-old who has just relocated with his single father, Curtis (Craig Robinson) to Heidelberg, Germany. Morris, who fancies himself the next Notorious B.I.G., is a complete fish-out-of-water—a budding hip-hop star in an EDM world. To complicate matters further, Morris quickly falls hard for his cool, rebellious, 15-year-old classmate Katrin. Morris sets out against all odds to take the hip-hop world by storm and win the girl of his dreams.
First off the fist-out-of-water elements actually are subtle and filled with a lot of depth. We slowly gain a powerful back story that touches the reality of where is Morris' Mom? That motherless element is a constant figure that makes Morris have a more profound reaction to his foreign world. So seeing how Morris gains some friends, but mainly strikes out makes his journey all the more painful. Morris' life isn't fully impacted by just school though. It's his meetings with his German therapist that helps Chad's script bring up the more emotional qualities in contrast to the funny moments.
Young Swiss actress Carli Juri (INKA) is one of the more intriguing characters in the film. She shares a great dynamic with Markees, but her scenes opposite Craig Robinson are some of the most tension filled and powerful exchanges of the whole film. The other dynamic young European actress is our love interest, Katrin (Lina Keller). Lina is as much of a find as Markees and their back and forth throughout the film really makes for an endearing coupling. A lot of quality acting going off of Chad's great script.
But when it comes down to it Morris From America is secretly a showcase for Craig Robinson. The funny main hits the right comedic notes.
Craig can dial in his inner Robin Williams and get to being a quality dramatic actor (parent).
Morris From America is funny, heartfelt and overall a well paced entertaining film worthy of your time. Start off your fall right!