I’ll always remember the first time I visited New York City. After our hailed cab driver was arrested we hopped on board a bus instead. Little did we know that it was about to drive us right through the Boroughs.
Being the only five white people on the entire ride was actually a lot of fun. My dad made quick friends and eventually we made our way to Manhattan. The other reason I’ll never forget this trip was when we made our way on foot through Chinatown to the Fulton Fish Market. On our way we realized that the streets were deserted and there sure seemed to be a lot of bars on the windows. Yup, we had just walked straight through the Bronx projects.
The reason I tell this story is because over the past two months I have relived this surreal experience twice. Once, while watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (a title that seems to sum all of that up nicely), then again while sitting in a screening of The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Filmed on location to give it the sense of realism it deserves sure brought back a lot of memories. And I have to say, that if the street action down there is anything like it is throughout the movie, we seemed to have had luck on our side as we tromped our way through the snow.
Mister and Pete are our titular heroes as they survive a sweltering summer abandoned in their Brooklyn apartment. Mister (Skylan Brooks) is put in charge of watching over Pete (Ethan Dizon) because his mother Gloria (Jennifer Hudson) is busy working for her pimp Kris (Anthony Mackie), when she’s not shooting up in the bedroom. Mister has it bad at school as well with his teacher giving him an F and now he has to repeat eighth grade. His only real friend seems to be Alice (Jordin Sparks), a nice girl making good, on her way out of the hood. Soon enough, Gloria goes missing leaving Mister and Pete to fend for themselves from starvation, abusive corner store clerks, a bully nicknamed Dip Stick (Julito McCullum), the police, an untimely heatwave, and just trying to make it to August 7 to audition for a casting call to make it big and move to Hollywood.
To say how amazing the cast is, let me put it this way. Until this writing, I had no idea that Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Anthony Mackie, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Eko from Lost) were all in Mister and Pete.
To say they all played against type is an understatement — in particular Hudson as the crack whore mother. I haven’t been a huge fan of Hudson, but her turn here makes me take back just about anything I may have said about her being overpraised in Dreamgirls. Director George Tillman Jr. and writer Michael Starrbury may start to lay things on a little thick with some convenient plot contrivances, but aside from the adult cast, Brooks and Dizon make the show their own. These two are a powerhouse and keep you on the edge of your seat believing all of the misadventures along the way.
This is definitely a coming of age tale to look forward to. Seeing how The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete was part of the Premieres category, you should be seeing it sometime this year at a theater sometime this year.