SKYLAN BROOKS ETHAN DIZON JENNIFER HUDSON JORDIN SPARKS ANTHONY MACKIE JEFFREY WRIGHT
The Inevitable Defeat of
Mister & Pete
There were many great films in 2013 focusing on teenage coming-of-age stories, but The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete isn’t one of them. Directed by George Tillman, Jr. (Men of Honor, Soul Food), Mister & Pete is a story instead of survival in a world where no one will help you. Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival, it follows two extraordinary characters played by two impressive young men as they try to fend for themselves in the sweltering heat of a crime and poverty stricken neighborhood. Sprinkled with award- winning actors in bit parts, this story isn’t about sympathy as much as it is about the determination of two boys wanting a life outside of the one they have been dumped into.
It’s the last day of middle school for Mister (Brooks) and he stares at a big red circled “F” on his final paper, which means he must repeat the eighth grade. School is the least of his worries, however, because when he gets home, his mother (Hudson) is doing her daily drug injection and there is no food in the house to eat. “I wish you would just die already,” the 14 year-old yells to his mother out of frustration. When she is taken away, Mister and his friend Peter (Dizon) decide to hide from social services and live on their own, in fear of going to a center for parentless children.
“Is it OK not to love your mom?” Pete asks his friend Mister, after seeing his own drug-addicted mom on the street begging for another hit. Brooks and Dizon show real strength as young actors in a film that will have many adults covering their mouths at the sight of the discarded lives of these two. The script, penned by Michael Starrbury, isn’t about creative scenes or stepping outside the narrative storytelling box; it’s a simple telling of two amazing human beings who have more will than all the adult characters on screen. It’s impressive what two actors of such a young age can accomplish, although most of the credit here likely goes to Tillman for extracting these performances.
In some ways, this film plays like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or The Way Way Back, except those characters were just depressed or outcasts; these teenagers are struggling to survive in the midst of poverty, crime, molestation, and abandonment. In the film, Mister aims to attend a casting audition for kids, and he shows Pete his Fargo monologue, which is a nice imitation; but then, he impersonates his mother and it’s a pretty shocking recollection of dialogue and mannerisms. “You can’t help but love her, but you don’t have to like her”, he explains.
Final Thought – A hard-knock life story with two impressive young performances.
Grade B By: Dustin Chase