GIMME THE LOOT is one of those films that sort of sneaks up on you. What starts out as an interesting quest for two graffiti artists to gain notoriety and recognition for themselves within this sub-culture by “bombing” (that’s how they refer to tagging up locations with their work) the New York Mets’ Home Run Apple quickly shifts into a heartfelt and very authentic tale of these same two young adults discovering their true feelings for one another. GIMME THE LOOT is sweet, funny and a blast to get involved in. If it’s not on your radar, put it there, because this is a movie you won’t regret watching... not one bit.
Right off the bat, Sofia, played by the wonderful Tashiana Washington, and Malcolm, who goes by the tag name Shakes (Ty Hickson) are absolutely bursting with the amount of chemistry that brings a very real quality to their relationship. She’s a street-smart hustler with plenty of rough edges in order to grasp for some level of respect among her peers. This is a beautiful girl unable to break out from the hard exterior she’s created around herself with baggy t-shirts, cargo shorts and a mouth full of expletives ready to come down upon you like a sledgehammer if you even attempt to speak out of turn. Whatever it takes for her to survive, be it hocking spray cans, stolen cell phones or a friend’s sneakers, she’s down. And here she is matched up with a slightly goofy and clueless best friend, who Hickson completely inhabits in the all talk fashion. This is the type of dude who will go on and on about how awesome he is, without one shred of evidence to back up any such claims. What he puts out there is that he has it all figured out, that he knows everything, and yet the basis of all his knowledge is just what he sees on a daily basis making his way around the city.
But the fact that they’re such opposites clicks extremely well, creating a scenario where they view themselves as just friends, exchanging dialogue at such a quick pace about everything from stickage (when your balls stick to your leg) to the design of condoms (Why do they have to go down all the way?) to wet dreams that guys share with their buddies all the time, yet we know there is a lot more bubbling beneath the surface that either they’re in denial of or haven’t the slightest idea how to come to grips with. We know they could end up as something more than best friends, and they probably should... but whether or not they’ll know is where GIMME THE LOOT gets quite interesting.
Adam Leon creates a very unique environment for GIMME THE LOOT to take place, ditching the typical New York staple of Manhattan and all its familiar land marks - Times Square, Rockefeller Center, etc. - for the outer boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, which give the film a much more grounded feel. There is a fantastical quality to New York City sometimes that wouldn’t fit what Leon is trying to do here, and using these neighborhoods that are very much in a different world than the tourist traps we come to identify with as being New York helps this relationship come across as real.
But it all goes back to Washington and Hickson who feel made for each other on-screen. They absolutely click with their rapid-fire exchanges, which nail the cadence of New Yorkers’ speech flawlessly, and every moment you spend with them together, as opposed to when they have to go their separate ways to do some maturing, is fulfilling. You’re either getting the benefit of watching this potential romance getting some life on the ground floor, or you’re watching their hilarious back and forths filled with insults and bickering disguised as terms of endearment that will really catch you off-guard with how funny they are.
There’s some extremely humorous sequences with Meeko who plays the neighborhood wise man Champion, who seems to know everything about his surroundings, good and bad, and watching his poorly planned schemes unfold with Malcolm make for some of the film’s best moments, but GIMME THE LOOT relies solely on Washington and Hickson to work, and they hit it so far out of the park, that cheesy Mets’ Apple should be on its way up. These two young actors are worth keeping your eyes on, because if they have more performances in them like these, we’ll be watching them in more excellent material in the years to come. As for Leon, he just seems to get his characters, which is more than I can say for some storytellers, and I’m very interested to see what he has planned next. GIMME THE LOOT is an excellent start for all involved, and one you should certainly give a chance. It’ll most likely end up surprising you, too.
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