Director: Adam Leon
Stars: Ty Hickson, Tashiana Washington, Zoe Lescaze, Meeko, Sam Sighor, Joshua Rivera
There's a moment nearly halfway into writer-director Adam Leon's feature film debut Gimme the Loot where its two leads, teenage NYC graffiti bombers Sophia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson), debate the efficiency full-member-sized condoms. Malcolm thinks that rubbers should just cover the "head," like a "fitted cap"; Sophia, as in most of their chats, thinks he's full of shit. It's a funny exchange that doesn't feel scripted, mainly because of the actors' naturalistic performances, and that's what lifts Gimme the Loot above the threshold of excellence as a whole: The film always feels in-the-moment and real.
Living in the Bronx, and, as a result, pledging allegiance to the New York Yankees' pinstripes, Sophia and Malcolm hatch a plan to "tag" the Mets Home Run Ball at the Queens-located Citi Field, an incredibly ambitious scheme that's halted when Sophia gets robbed by members of a rival spray-can-toting gang. The theft inspires Malcolm to hatch a heist of his own, one that involves jacking a case of expensive jewelry from an upper-class floozy (Zoe Lescaze) to whom he recently brought drugs.
In Leon's vibrant, warm, and consistently amusing film, the characters' sticky-fingered, urban adventure itself ranks secondary to Gimme The Loot fluid direction and breathlessly witty dialogue, spoken by a squad of first-time performers who uniformly come off as real-deal people, not fictional creations. It's every bit as authentic in spirit as Larry Clark's similarly presented Kids (1995), only, with its amiability, it's much more accessible.