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Morris From America

Strong performances from Markees Christmas and Craig Robinson pay off in this coming-of-age tale

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In this low-key coming-of-age story, 13-year-old Morris (Markees Christmas) and his recently widowed dad, Curtis (Craig Robinson), have relocated to Heidelberg, Germany, where Curtis coaches soccer. Writer/director Chad Hartigan’s Morris From America quickly establishes that Morris faces formidable social challenges: He’s the new, foreign, awkward kid who can barely speak the language. But Morris attracts the attention of Katrin (Lina Keller), a rebellious 15-year-old , who treats him both kindly and cruelly. Morris is, of course, enthralled.

While the film presents many standard first-crush “dramas,” there is a second emotional track where the still-grieving Morris and Curtis have to recalibrate their relationship. Curtis, now the sole disciplinarian, still wants to be Morris’ buddy — the two share a love of rapping, though they have utter disdain for each other’s style — and he struggles to find a balance. He’s also keenly aware that his relocating to Germany makes life especially tough on Morris.

Seeking to impress Katrin, Morris does some dumb (if wholly believable) things — not out of anger or petulance, but because he’s just a kid. The result of Morris’ ill-advised (but also wonderful) adventure is worth the wait in this lightly plotted film. It’s a win of sorts for Morris, but the real payoff is for us, when the steady work Robinson has done as Curtis pays off in a great father-son moment. 

In English, and some German, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Sept. 30. Harris. CP Approved

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