Being a thirteen-year-old boy in America isn’t easy, and it’s harder if your widowed Dad takes a job in some crazy place in Germany (Heidelberg) to coach soccer. It doesn’t get any easier when your dad (Craig Robinson) is OLD and has lame taste in music.
But Heidelberg teenagers, especially one particularly attractive fifteen-year-old girl, are fascinated by Morris (Markees Christmas), because he’s African American and Heidelberg is provincial and not remotely diverse. Morris has to put up with petty racial insults, but they’re generally farcical and he gets a chance to push outside his own thirteen-year-old world and be tested.
Writer/director Chad Hartigan spent some of his young life in Cyprus, and some of the rap lyrics Morris’ dad criticizes are ones Hartigan wrote when he was ten. He wrote and directed the MDFF 2013 hit This Is Martin Bonner, and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance for this script.
Hartigan delivers a wonderfully entertaining film that has humor and surprising twists in every scene. The underlying charm of the film relies on detailed and truthful character development, delivered through wondrous performances. Anyone who has been a thirteen-year-old boy, or a potential girlfriend of same, will laugh, wince, and nod knowingly as Morris takes his brave journey of self- discovery. (Jed Dietz)