The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

George Tillman Jr.'s The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is the  distressingly familiar tale of children imperiled by their parents' inattention and dysfunction and the animosity of a world that seems to despise young people when it's not preying on them. I tried hard to like this film -- and was helped in my quest by the two young actors in the title roles (Skylan Brooks as Mister and Ethan Dizon as Pete). Tillman clearly loves these dead end kids, and their faces, and we quickly fall for the endearing Pete, an engaging Korean lad with "privacy" issues. It takes a little longer for us to warm up to Mister, an angry, skinny black kid who wants to be an actor but whose mother (Jennifer Hudson) is on the needle and turns tricks for a neighborhood pimp named Chris (a weirdly bearded Anthony Mackie). After his mother is arrested in the most nonsensical sting operation I've witnessed in quite a while, Mister is left to fend for himself and young Pete, whose mother is also a junkie hooker and avoid the social service workers until his mom returns. The days stretch into weeks as the boys wait, mount scheme after scheme to keep themselves fed and out of the way of a bushy-headed project loud mouth Mister calls Dipstick.  As much as I wanted the Mister and Pete to not be defeated and pulled for them through every turn, I felt, in the end, enervated by the two-dimensional flatness of the story, a quality that detracted from the few resonant moments in the movie. One involved a homeless veteran (played by one of finest and most under-employed actors on the planet Jeffrey Wright), Mister and a military service medal and another between a tearful Mister and a burly police officer (Lost's Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Though I feel it is meant to be uplifting, in the end the heaviness of the subject matter keeps it weighed down. Recommended with reservations.

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