Shoes Make The Man in “Kicks” (Movie Review)

Sep 17, 2016


Kicks (2016)

Animal Kingdom

Directed by: Justin Tipping
Written by: Joshua Beirne-Golden, Justin Tipping
Starring: Jahking Guillory, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer

The Good
I think that both the writing and the directing by Justin Tipping were tremendous in this film. There never seemed to be much of an agenda being forcefully pushed onto the audiences through the stories or the characters. Instead we’re witnessing the development of a boy discovering and navigating through the realities of masculinity in his own social context. If you’re like me, you’ll be intrigued and maybe even fascinated with the sneaker culture, perception of manhood and the great lengths taken to achieve it. On a more technical side, Tipping also includes some great symbolism through use of the other character in this film, the Astronaut. It wasn’t too deep of a metaphorical symbol, but it was powerfully effective in its representation. (You’ll see what I mean in the film.)

What was even better was that we’re not isolated to just one perspective throughout the film. When we’re exposed to some of the other character’s points of view, the scope of the film not only changes, but it also challenges your preconceived notions of the characters themselves. This certainly helps the movie evolve into something much deeper than the simplistic portrayal that the trailer suggests.

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The film also doesn’t hold back in regards to its vulgarity, drug use, and violence. (Parents be advised) It’s as “real” as it gets in how it portrays a small glimpse of potential inner city culture. What can be appreciated in this genuine depiction is that it encompasses a blend of drama, comedy, and even some action.

Jahking Guillory (plays “Brandon”) does a wonderful job of showing the transition to “manhood” in this story. (He’s definitely got a bright future) Kofi Siriboe (Flaco) also showed off his acting chops by displaying a character that wasn’t as one-dimensional as many may think. The rest of the supporting cast such as Mahershala Ali, Christopher Jordan Wallace and Christopher Meyer also gave meaningful performances that add on to the multiple layers of this film.

The Bad
I’ve got nothing…

The Reason
The movie Kicks probably gives new meaning to “Shoes Make the Man”. I’ll be the first to admit that when I initially started watching this, I was rolling my eyes at the level of adoration the main character had over just a pair of shoes. However, the more you watch the film, the more it challenges you to break free of your own social context. I think it’s also important that if you’re not familiar with life of the inner city, or the sneaker culture, then go into this film with a very open mind. It is not a representation of all minorities in the inner city. It’s not a bunch of stereotypes being portrayed either.

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Kicks shows a lot of heart even in the midst of the turmoil that can plague an impoverish community. So what I appreciated was how this movie reminds you that those shoes, those ideals of masculinity, and the means they go through to obtain them all are simply a part of their reality.

If I had to compare this movie to others, I’d say it’s a combination of Dope Menace II Society + Boyz N The Hood. It’s a phenomenal movie that I think exceeds expectations. In my opinion, Kicks is one of the best movies you probably haven’t heard about until now. Go see it however you can.


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