The Review: … and now we’ve found the year’s worst picture. To be fair, though, this story of a young juvenile yo-yoing in and out of state penitentiary since the age of eight was probably never going to score too well, even if it had a remarkable cast and crew. Jamesy Boy doesn’t even have that; newcomer director and cowriter Trevor White, and fellow “scribe” Lane Shadgett, clearly can’t write and direct with any material.
Spencer LoFranco – again, who knew? – plays James, or Jamesy (as he’s christened by his new found pimp – runs errands for the local gangster dealing drugs and doing all sorts of naughty things. His mum, played by Mary Louise Parker, is an utter skank who’s thrown responsibility out of the window a long time ago. James wanders up the ranks of this Early Learning Centre underworld from “droog” to “fuck knuckle” (my terms, not theirs) after intervening in a house raid, but winds up in pen once again for… God knows what.
It seems everyone in the movie (and quite possibly outside of it) has mild learning difficulties. I’m sure that’s not the filmmaker’s intention, here. LoFranco sucks cock as the lead – resembling as he does a teenager Suggs from Madness, chewing and licking his lips as if trying to ingest the script lines literally. The other players fair less well; Rosa Salazar plays Crystal and does her best not to snap an eyeful of the camera lense. Something called Taboo plays one of the Mexican inmates who stabs a geek in the showers. None of that is particularly convincing nor engaging. Then there’s Vera Farmiga’s younger sister who emerges relatively unscathed as the store owner’s daughter who eventually will play a huge part in reforming the unreformable James. Ving Rhames is the Morgan Freeman “Red” character of the piece; a multiple murderer who Jamesy naturally takes on as his mentor. Rhames bangs on about Rio de Janeiro. Jamesy will pronounce the “Janeiro” part wrong, and Rhames will correct him in a later scene.
The entire movie smacks of a fifteen year-old thinking he’s clever and writing and directing a coming-out-of-prison-age drama. It comes across as extremely dense and verbose; this could be a TV movie. A cable TV movie. James Woods plays the prison warden figure. Yeah, he looks as embarrassed to be here as much as we do. It’s rare you get to see an ensemble miscast as wide as this one – if you’re feeling a bit narcissistic then you may want to sit through a part of it to remind you just how intelligent you actually are.
Why do these impressionable youngsters end up in chokey, anyway? The film seems to suggest it’s the lack of a parental figure – but that attaining one in the slammer is the next best thing. Really? Maybe it’s down to a lack of education. In the film’s sole worthy scene (and that compliment is relative, you understand) early on, the head teacher of a school rattles off a list of reasons why this fourteen year-old ex-con can’t become a student. Mum drags him out and tells him it’ll be okay. I’m not a parent, but I do know that life will suck for this poor sod from now on – not least because the fucker playing him can’t act his way out of a paper toilet roll.
So, want more proof? Okay, here’s my final kick to the head: the opening tells us this is based on a true story. Allow me one better; it’s probably based on scores of true stories. However, the closing card helpfully informs us that James “… studied writing and poetry at Borough of Manhattan Community College and hopes to continue his highter education”. Re-read that sentence again.
No, I have not misspelled that word in the sentence and – no – the irony of the mistake is lost on me. And only when it is not lost on this nitwit who’s spent the past years trying to defrock his criminal past to pursue a career in literary excellence, will I start to give an actual shit about them.
Reviewed By: Andrew Mackay
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