Morris From America Movie Review
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Fitting in as a young teenager can be difficult. Feeling comfortable and making friends after relocating to a small town when you are a minority is even more laborious. Now imagine being a minority middle schooler in a small town located in a foreign country. Dealing with the language and culture barriers can be overwhelming for even the most well-adjusted kid. The exploration of these challenges in Morris from America, and how they can be overcome by strong family ties, is a relevant story that can’t be told too often.
Life was difficult for Morris (Markees Christmas), a thirteen-year-old boy from the USA who relocated to Heidelberg, Germany with his recently widowed, soccer coach father Curtis (Craig Robinson, Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)). Like most teenage boys, Morris is more interested in rap music and girls than school, but he tries hard to learn the language and fit in with other kids. He regularly meets with Inka (Carla Juri, Wetlands (2013)), a college student hired by his Dad to tutor him in German, who begins to take on the role of his mother.
All is going well with Morris, until he joins a youth club and meets confident, witty, and sharp tongued Katrin (Lina Keller). She clearly enjoys his companionship, but also realizes that he wants more than a friendship and she regularly takes advantage of the situation. Katrin easily convinces Morris on numerous occasions to take part in activities that he knows his father would not approve. Casual drinking leads to drugs, skipping town for a night and lying to his Dad, all in an effort to impress Katrin, which as you could guess does not end well for Morris.
Morris from America is a coming of age story that might be difficult for viewers to relate to in aggregate, but this well acted and heartfelt film contains elements that most people have experienced in their younger years. Race is used as an added element of differentiation in this film, but the lead characters could have been of any lineage and this story would still resonate. The awkwardness of growing up and occasionally feeling more isolated than we actually are, is a shared human experience that transcends race and sex.
Whether it be child-parent relationships, idolizing current pop stars, first crushes or school yard bullies, this film is sure to spark at least one memory in all of us. Morris from America does not contain any whiz-bang special effects, will not break any box office records and will not earn any shiny awards, but it is a solid story about a small family dealing with the many challenges of growing up and is worthy of your attention.