Morris from America: A true feel-good movie

Morris+from+America%3A+A+true+feel-good+movie

Fabian Brims, Staff Writer

The movie ‘Morris from America’ is an American-German co-production and tells the story of Morris (Markees Christmas), a 13-year-old kid from the United States. He just moved to Germany with his father Curtis (Craig Robinson) who took a job as a soccer coach for the local team. The father is a widow and still struggles with the loss, just like Morris. Although Morris is a little shy, he dreams of a career as a rapper so his father tries to teach him the characteristics of a good MC – being relevant and original and not just copying someone’s style. Morris is also taking German lessons from a student Inka (Carla Juri) that prove to be very helpful – both with his language skills and social integration. He has many questions, and often feels more comfortable talking to Inka than his father. Then Morris becomes interested in a cute German girl named Katrin (Lina Keller) who he knows from the youth center where he spends his afternoons. Things get more complicated when Katrin invites him to a party, and Morris ends up betraying his father’s trust.

Craig Robinson does a really good job playing the role of a struggling father, who tries to bring his son on the right path, while also dealing with the death of his beloved wife. However, the real star of this movie is Markees Christmas. He brings the emotion to the screen without overacting, and he gives the character a heart and a soul. His performance and the chemistry with his on-screen-dad Robinson carry the movie.

This coming-of-age story from director Chad Hartigan, who is also the screenwriter, is heartwarming, honest, and has excellent comedic timing without ever getting silly. It fluctuates between funny and sad and refreshingly realistic without being exploitative or cheap. I especially enjoyed how the movie doesn’t use any kind of comedy-stereotypes like a goofy best friend for Morris. The soundtrack features great hip-hop music from Morris’ heroes, while the German teens are rather into techno and dance music.

The movie takes place in the German town of Heidelberg, which provides a beautifully scenic backdrop for the story. Its realistic portrayal of the middle class millennial generation, and between the party and a growing interest for girls, Morris learns about responsibility and relationships but never in a lecturing way. It’s like his father says – Morris has to find his own way through his life.

The everyday problems of a teenager who just tries to fit in are often told in many different movies, but if it’s done in such a warm and empathic way, it is still fun to watch. In a summer filled with blockbusters, which tend to be disappointing, an independent movie like this is often the better choice – one that leaves you with a smile.

 

Morris From America (2016); written & directed by Chad Hartigan; with Craig Robinson, Markees Christmas, Carla Juri, Lina Keller; 91 min

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