Plot: What’s it about?
Sometimes it’s nice to be asked to review a film you’ve heard nothing about. Some might immediately go to Rotten Tomatoes or another online site to read reviews or get an idea what it’s about. With Morris from America, I chose not to do so. I like to go into movies fresh. While there are occasions where I like to know a bit about a film, I think it takes away any prejudices you might have. While the film is ultimately doesn’t have the heaviest of plots, it was still enjoyable from start to finish. One of the pleasures of the film came from Markees Christmas as the title character. He’s almost, if not every scene of the film, and he’s more than capable of carrying it. It might not be the most memorable film in its genre, but it gets enough right.
Morris (Christmas) and his recently widowed father, Curtis (Craig Robinson) who moved to Germany aren’t necessarily loving it there. Obviously, there’s a language barrier and Morris isn’t great at making new friends. One of the subplots involves him seeing a translator who helps him learn the language. He and his father seem to get along ok, but there’s also a bit of tension as well. For one, Morris is a teenager and would rather do stuff on his own rather than hang out with his father. In an early scene, we see him and his father rapping. His dad threatens to ground him over his lack of rap skills. This is played for laughs, but Curtis takes his rapping seriously. It doesn’t take long for Morris to grow an attraction to a student where he attends school. Katrin (Lina Keller) is the girl Morrisbegins to like. She’s tall and lanky and seems nice enough to Morris at first, even if the other students don’t take to him as much. After they talk a couple of times, she invites him to a party. As he arrives, Katrin embarrasses him by spraying him with a water gun. She later tells him that it’s just a game they play there. It takes a while, but he forgives her and the two of them are on good terms again. As the film progresses, we see Morris slowly coming out of his shell and we see the developing relationship with him and Katrin. There are some surprises here and there, but the film does hit some familiar beats. At its heart, this is very much a coming of age story. A lot of people might be able to relate to it on some level. Having it set in Germany does add some freshness to it, but it could’ve been set anywhere, really. The scenes with Christmas and Robinson are also effective as well. He doesn’t put many stipulations on his son, outside of simply letting him know where he is or is going. What it might lack in terms of plot, it makes up for with character moments.
Video: How’s it look?
We get an AVC encoded 1.85:1 transfer that more than gets the job done. This isn’t an exceptionally flashy film, so don’t expect anything to “pop” at you, but that’s OK. Colors are fine and the print shows no obvious flaws. Fans will be pleased with the results here.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track is as expected for a film of this sort. The rapping and party sequences are what give the track the most use. The other times, there’s a bit of dialogue. No issues to speak of, however, as there’s always a clarity to the track. Like the transfer, this track satisfies.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Making Morris from America – A standard “talking heads” featurette with some interviews with the cast and crew as well as some behind the scenes footage.
- Bloopers – Some outtakes.
- Deleted Scenes
- Casting Tapes – These always intrigue me for some reason. I found them to be pretty spot on in regard to the final product and it’s interesting (to me, at least) to see how different a movie set, lighting and costume design can really make.
- Audio Commentary – Director Chad Hartigan and Actors Craig Robinson and Markees Christmas collaborate for a pretty lively and informative track. Hartigan takes the lead, but there are some pretty amusing parts with Robinson and Christmas. Fans will enjoy it.
The Bottom Line
While not entirely original, Morris at least puts a somewhat fresh spin on a familiar story. The acting here is what helps drive the film, and it has its heart in the right place. It doesn’t hold a spot with the classics of this genre, but it’s worth watching and more than holds its own.