Director: Chad Hartigan
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
A young American boy tries to adjust to living in Germany where he has no friends and barely speaks the language.
"Morris from America" is written and directed by Chad Hartigan. It is a coming-of-age story about a 13-year-old American boy named Morris, played by Markees Christmas, who is trying to adjust to living with his father Curtis, played by Craig Robinson, in Germany. His father is a former soccer player who now coaches a team in their small town. Morris is a little shy, loves rap music, and has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about living in Germany since he has no friends and barely speaks the language. One day, Inka, Morris's German tutor, played by Carla Juri, encourages him to spend some time at the local youth center. Once there, he meets a wild, outgoing teen named Katrin, played by Lina Keller, who befriends him, but seems to not be totally on the up and up.
This film gives a funny, endearing and touching look at a young teen having to adjust to a wildly different environment. Morris has recently lost his mother, and now has to go from spending much of his life in the Bronx to moving to a German suburbia filled with people who just don't understand him, metaphorically and literally. "Morris from America" feels very genuine, offering a character sketch of Morris, his relationship with his father, and his interactions with his peers across a cultural barrier.
Markees Christmas does a brilliant job in his portrayal of the titular character as we see the angst and awkward feelings he is certainly experiencing. It is hard enough growing up in a culture you are familiar with, but to be uprooted and taken to a place where you don't know anyone, have trouble communicating, must learn what is expected of you, and are seen as different is even worse. Morris has to understand his personal changes as he is growing up, as well as learn how to reconnect with an entirely new section of humanity. Craig Robinson also does a fantastic job portraying a loving father who still manages to be charming and funny and scolding in his own way. While watching the movie, we were never sure about Katrin and her relationship with Morris, which really made us question where the movie was going to go next in terms of plot progression. She's a bit of a bad influence, only using Morris to make her mother uneasy and to show how edgy she is to her peers. Even though she did manage to make Morris open up socially and try new experiences, sometimes they are ill advised and cause him problems at home.
"Morris From America" made us smile, laugh, and think. Morris and Curtis are completely likable and relatable characters who do what they can to get by, and they are brought to life by tremendous acting by Christmas and Robinson. We wound up really enjoying this movie a whole lot and hope you seek it out.
My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!