Walking and talking: Washington and Hickson. IFC/Sundance Selects
Opens Fri., April 12 at Varsity. Not rated. 81 minutes.
As they complain about HBO’s Girls today, as people have long complained about Woody Allen, New York isn’t a city comprising only neurotic white people whining about their relationship troubles on the sidewalk. Adam Leon once worked on Allen’s sets as a PA, and he clearly heard those complaints. His promising debut feature follows two teen graffiti artists from the Bronx to Manhattan and back during one long summer day. Malcolm (Ty Hickson) has a plan to “bomb” (i.e., tag) Shea Stadium, home of the hated Mets. Sofia (Tashiana Washington) points out that they lack the $500 necessary to bribe the stadium groundskeeper. What follows is a charming, picaresque adventure to gather the loot—petty efforts at crime that invariably result in comic bungling and blame. (“Google how to pick a lock!”) During its course, Malcolm loses his sneakers and pot- courier job, Sofia loses her bike, and both begin to sense feelings stronger than their fellowship in Krylon. Although they can explode into mighty fits of trash-talking (both to each other and to rivals), there’s no real heat to these tirades, their words as exaggerated and colorful as their graffiti lettering. Long walking-and-talking scenes with Malcolm and Sofia do recall Allen, but this is Spike Lee’s city, with white privilege on the periphery. Leon doesn’t insist this is a life- changing day for his two teens, but it’s an odyssey of small, meaningful moments.