Gimme the Loot, 2012.
Directed by Adam Leon.
Starring Ty Hickson, Tashiana Washington, Joshua Rivera, Meeko and Zoë Lescaze.
Two determined teen graffiti writers set out across New York City to tag an iconic city landmark – the New York Mets’ Homerun Apple.
The photogenic nature of New York City comes out strongly in this witty wander across the Big Apple. Mostly set in Brooklyn, the simple plot is an effective gateway into an urban youth fantasy of big ideas and even bigger dreams.
The two leads, Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sophia (Tashiana Washington), are local graffiti writers and small time drug dealers on a mission to win back some respect after their latest work gets ‘buffed’ (spoiled or defaced). This takes the largely innocent pair across the sun-drenched city with a vague dream of tagging the city’s baseball stadium homerun apple. Along the way, they become embroiled in various urban adventures including stolen spray cans, forgotten trainers and a rich stoned girl.
Almost like a cross hatching of Spike Lee’s best work – Do the Right Thing, say, and Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Gimme the Loot is a romance more than anything else. The two kids act tough to each other and to the world, but ultimately their closeness and allegiance to each other is portrayed wonderfully well. They are also both very funny. The vibrancy and energy of the Brooklyn cityscapes are captured in colourful style, displaying the long hot days of the New York summer in fine style. A soundtrack of hip hop, blues and soul tunes add to the almost carnival like atmosphere.
Social realist elements are hinted at – ie, no one has a real job, everyone’s dirt poor – but never to the detriment of a pace that flows along and a sharp dialogue heavy script filled with urban observations and imaginative ‘cusses’.
The scenes featuring a private school educated white girl and her drug loving buddies highlight a perceived haves and have-nots approach which appears to be believable enough. As in any city, particularly ones which make a lot of money, the differences between social classes can be extreme. The film does not lose anything through this, in fact, in gains. It is an indicator of a sensitivity beyond the easy laughs.
Occasionally the quick fire dialogue can be something of a struggle for non NYC audiences to keep up with, and a decent set of speakers is recommended to fully get what the two happen to be on about. Or you could put subtitles on, I guess, to have the full ‘learn New York’ experience. This is a minor quibble, though and anyone who’s ever heard a few rap albums should be fine.
Overall, something of a grand New York tour – surprisingly sweet, the film is all about growing up, survival, love and friendship.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.