Morris from America

Rated 4.0

This low-key gem from writer-director Chad Hartigan arrives just in time to redeem an entire summer’s worth of crass and mindless destruction at the multiplex. Teenage actor Markees Christmas stars as Morris Gentry, an aspiring rapper and typically hormonal 13 year-old boy who moves to Germany with his ex-footballer father Curtis (a revelatory Craig Robinson) following the death of his mother. As Curtis tells Morris, they’re “the only two brothers in Heidelberg,” and the usual pitfalls of pubescence are magnified by Morris’ outsider status in the culture and with the language. Morris from America isn’t shy about rolling around in genre tropes—it manages to be a fish-out-of-water story, a coming-of-age story and a slice-of-life all at once—but it rarely comes across as false or forced. Credit Hartigan for transcending the potential high-concept fuzziness of the premise by keeping the film grounded in authentic moments of adolescent angst and longing. D.B.