STRAIGHT OUT of Brooklyn" is an amateurish film. Everything about it is basic and crude, but the fact that it was done by a 19-year-old, Matty Rich, persuades us to say as many nice things as we can about the movie.
It is, for instance, honest. It is also heartfelt. It is also a very positive film, at least the postscript, in which Rich appeals to the audience to help stop the cycle of drugs and violence that are so much a part of inner-city life.
The film takes place in a project settlement in Brooklyn, where Dennis Brown (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) lives with his mother, father and sister.
Life at home is brutal. Dad (George T. Odom) is a frustrated gas station attendant who takes out his disappointments on his wife. He beats her. She is seldom without bruises on her face. She, meanwhile, is an "enabler." She allows it to happen. He's a good man, she tells her children. Her acquiescence is finally her undoing.
Dennis wants out. He wants to get out of Brooklyn, but he doesn't want to do it the hard way. Going to school, becoming somebody, would take too long, so he and his two buddies (Mark Malone and director Matty Rich) hatch a plan. They will get a gun and snatch a satchel full of money from a drug courier.
They get the weapon, a shotgun, from Dennis' uncle, and the scene strikes this reviewer as unbelievable. The uncle, working on the shady side of the law, finally agrees to give the boys the gun in a plastic bag and tells them he does not want to hear anything from the police about this.
This sort of thing goes on throughout the film -- scenes you don't believe, scenes that go on too long, scenes that have nothing to do with the continuation of the plot. But then, many scenes do work, and when they do they are very strong.
"Straight out of Brooklyn" opens today at local theaters. If the movie earns a C for realization, it deserves an A for intention. Give Rich a few years, and he'll be doing more polished work. The talent is there.
"Straight Out of Brooklyn"
* A Brooklyn boy wants to leave the projects in the worst way.
CAST: George T. Odom, Ann. D Sanders, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., Mark Malone, Matty Rich.
DIRECTOR: Matty Rich
RATING: R (language, violence, sex)
( RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes