It’s the last day of school for eighth grader Mister Winfield (Skylan Brooks), who comes home to the projects where he lives with his single-mom (Jennifer Hudson), Gloria, a hooker with a heroin habit. His best friend, 9 year-old Pete (Ethan Dizon), isn’t any better off, since his mother (Martha Millan) works out on the corner for the same abusive pimp (Anthony Mackie).
When both their moms disappear, it looks like the housing cops will cart them away to Riverview, an institution with a horrible reputation in terms of foster care. So, the boys decide to hide in Mister’s apartment, occasionally venturing down to the tough streets where they must forage and fend for themselves over the course of a particularly sweltering New York City summer.
This is the opening salvo of The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, a gritty, slice-of-life saga directed by George Tillman Jr. (Notorious). The compelling coming- of-age drama plays out like an inner-city answer to The Kings of Summer, a similarly-themed story in a suburban setting.
Here, although Pete is Korean-American, Mister, who is black, refers to his BFF as “my nigga.” And as the two unsupervised adolescents negotiate their way around the ‘hood, no one seems to take much notice of their age or ethnic differences.
Meanwhile, despite being 3,000 miles away from California, aspiring actor Mister harbors a secret dream of auditioning at an upcoming casting call with the hopes of landing a role that will enable them to relocate to Hollywood. He prepares for his make-or-break moment by reenacting a scene from Fargo that he’s memorized verbatim.
However, before that opportunity arrives, a host of frightening ordeals lay in wait in an unforgiving ghetto littered with the scum of the earth. Will he survive, let alone escape to L.A.? If so, it’ll make for one heck of a “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay come September.
A picture which proves it’s hard in the ’hood not only for pimps, but for kids, too.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for profanity, ethnic slurs, drug use and sexuality
Running time: 108 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
To see a trailer for The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, visit: