At the Sundance Film Festival in January, one of the more well-received films was Morris From America, a coming-of-age comedy/drama starring Markees Christmas as Morris, a 13-year-old American boy who moves to Germany along with his single father (Craig Robinson.) It’s a fairly classic fish-out-of-water story: 13-year-old Morris is American where everyone else is German, black where everyone else is white, and an aspiring rapper while those around him prefer EDM music. Can he enjoy life in Germany, find love, and get on the road to success as a rapper, while avoiding getting grounded by his dad?
The third film from writer and director Chad Hartigan arrives in theaters in August, and its first trailer debuted Tuesday. In the trailer, we see lots of banter between Robinson and Christmas, with the boy’s dad both gently making fun of his musical tastes but also encouraging him in his efforts at a rap career. There’s also quite a lot of Morris getting adjusted to his new country, and his flirtation with a German girl named Kelly (Lina Keller). We also see him getting ready to perform at a talent show, and trying his hand at learning German with the help of a tutor (Carla Juri.)
Based on the trailer and advanced word of mouth, Morris From America looks promising – with the word out of Sundance not only positive, but approaching ‘critical darling’ levels, with critics praising its charm and sweetness (to the tune of a current 82% Rotten Tomatoes score). Christmas looks like a true talent and Robinson hasn’t gotten as many chances to shine in a dramatic sense as he clearly deserves (nothing against the Hot Tub Time Machine franchise).
A24, the film’s distributor is on something of a roll and has shown itself adept at marketing offbeat films of late, with Room and The Lobster two success stories. Then again, history has given us all sorts of films that killed at Sundance but landed with a thud once the general public gained access. Worst case scenario, this is another Happy, Texas or Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Morris From America arrives in U.S. theaters August 19, 2016 and is available exclusively on DirectTV Cinema.