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By Carrie Stemke · January 4, 2015
SXSW winner Gimme the Loot is a smart, slice-of-life film that follows Sophia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson), two aspiring teenage graffiti artists, through the streets of New York City, as they struggle to raise the money to be able to “bomb” the ultimate location: the Mets’ Home Run Apple.
Director Adam Leon’s hit film has a realistic, easygoing vibe. The performances by Washington and Hickson are energetic and outstanding: both characters seem as though they’ve been plucked straight off the sidewalks of New York City. The chemistry between the actors is refreshingly natural, and the two converse together easily in a slang-filled discussion. The film has a rawness, a human quality to it that big-budget Hollywood often goes to such great lengths to capture with little success.
Gimme the Loot is categorized as a comedy, but I’d have to disagree with that genre classification, largely because I didn’t find a whole lot to laugh at. Instead, I found a film that was willing to touch on tough subjects, and to do so with a fairness and balance that was representative of the real world we live in. Gimme the Loot takes on class differences with admirable bravery, and shows the rough ways in which both haves and have-nots treat each other. Malcolm is only good enough for Ginnie when her snobbish friends aren’t around, but at the same time, Ginnie is interesting to Malcolm because he’s sure he’ll be able to convince her to give him something of value. The film also touches on the topic of being a young woman making her way on her own in the character of Sophia. Sophia navigates the urban jungle with simultaneous sharpness and stupidity that’s highly reflective of a teenage girl, and she runs into a number of people who take advantage of her because of her age and sex. However, Leon avoids turning Sophia into a pathetic victim: she stands up for herself, and she has real friends too.
Although the plotline of Gimme the Loot is a little silly, I’ll temper that statement by saying that as an adult, being willing to pay $500 you don’t have to be a graffiti superstar who tags the Mets’ Home Run Apple would naturally seem kind of ridiculous to me. However, from the point of view of teenagers like Sophia and Malcolm, you can see how it makes sense, and how their dreams lift them up out of the much harsher reality in which they live. And it’s fun to watch them try, despite the fact that at 79 minutes, the movie is slightly longer than it should be. Overall, Gimme the Loot is enjoyable, and you’ll find yourself rooting for Sophia and Malcolm to succeed.