A coming-of-age story is the heartwarming center of the new film, Morris from America. The story probably will not surprise too many people; it is a borderline generic coming-of-age tale with few twists. But the acting is remarkable and the characters are well-developed without much need for exposition. If you give it a chance and your heart is open, you will probably feel something while watching this film.
Thirteen-year-old Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas) is an American living in Germany with his father, Curtis (Craig Robinson), who is there coaching a professional soccer team. Morris has no friends to speak of and is a bit of an outsider partially due to the fact that he and his father are “the only two brothers in Heidelberg”. But then he meets rebellious fifteen-year-old Katrin (Lina Keller), who befriends him, sort of, and turns his world upside down.
Though not a major plot point, the cultural differences between Germans and Americans (specifically African-Americans) are explored to some degree. There is one notable scene where Katrin bluntly asks Morris a few questions that are supposedly true about black people and Morris either denies or dodges the questions in somewhat humorous fashion. It, along with other scenes, offers some insight into both characters, their cultures, and gives the film a little extra depth. But, like I said at the onset of this paragraph, it is not a major aspect of this film; tweak the story a bit and it could easily be just about any combination of kids from any culture.
There is comedy mixed in with the drama and romance. Thankfully, it is not the over-the-top outrageous comedy that tends to capture the hearts of movie studios; I just saw the new Vacation movie this past weekend (thanks to circumstances that sent me to a hotel with HBO) and it had very little to like. But I digress. The comedy in Morris from America was more subtle and, in my opinion that made it more enjoyable. For example, minor spoiler alert, there is one scene where Morris asks his dad if he would be willing to give him a ride somewhere and then the scene cuts to a shot of Morris on a bus. It is not exactly an original joke, but I laughed. If comedy is done well, it does not have to “push boundaries” that only small groups wants to cross.
I loved the acting. At almost no point did I find myself thinking I was watching actors in a movie; even with Craig Robinson, who is the only actor I have seen prior to this movie. In fact, I would rank this among the best movies that I have seen featuring Craig Robinson and the best movie that I have seen featuring everyone else. I would mildly recommend this amiable film.