A Gritty Realistic Coming of Age Tale!
There are a lot of documentaries being made now. Quite a few of them don’t get turned into major motion pictures, but a few do get the honor. The Walk, Snowden, and Milk were all made after the successful documentaries Man on Wire, Citizenfour, and The Times of Harvey Milk all came out first. Charm City Kings is another film inspired by a documentary, 12 O’Clock Boys by Lofty Nathan.
Turned into a narrative feature film, Charm City Kings depicts the lives of three young men who want to be somebody in life. They don’t want to just be working stiffs in a downtrodden section of Baltimore, Maryland. Mouse (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), Lamont (Donielle T. Hansley Jr.), and Sweartagawd (Kezii Curtis) are childhood friends. Like most kids their age and creed, these guys have a hard time adjusting. They only really enjoy themselves when there riding their bikes through the streets of the neighborhoods.
Mouse wants more, though. He wants to join the Midnight Clique, a dirt bike crew that roams the Baltimore streets. These guys and girls are popular amongst the kids in the neighborhood. Mouse gets recruited by Blax who is a leader in the community. He owns a dirt bike repair shop. He gets Mouse to work for him. Mouse has bigger ideas for himself than pushing a broom around a garage, even though he’s working for a dirt bike of his own.
The boys see the fast money that comes with riding with the Midnight Clique, so the lines between the straight and narrow are blurred. Doing work for the Clique will earn them money and they will feel like they are a part of something bigger than just themselves. But with this kind of illegitimate work comes danger. The boys’ parents aren’t all about this kind of activity for their kids. Add in teenage love and relationships, the boys are into quite a bit as fourteen-year-olds. These streets can be quite difficult for adults let alone young teenagers.
Director Angel Manuel Soto and the writers Sherman Payne and Barry Jenkins have really captured this slice-of-life story perfectly. This world they adapted from the documentary was vividly brought to life on the big screen. The cast of new and established actors throughout the cast help mix up the different types of personalities throughout the film. A realistic world has to be made up of realistic looking and talking people. Charm City Kings well full of those from beginning to end.
When films are made about real places and people that represent those places they need to be authentic. This film seems to be as authentic as can be. The writers and director got this world to a tee. That makes for an entertaining film. Very good acting and believable characters also make for an engaging story to follow. This film had everything one would need to enjoy it. I love seeing movies about things I didn’t know about.
4 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen