Straight Outta Tompkins – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

The Question Posed Is: What Do You Want To Do With Your Life? Something Eugene constantly finds himself trying to answer throughout the film as he has a scholarship as one option and drug dealing as another.

Trigger Warning(s): People Shooting Up

Review (with Spoilers) – Below

Characters & Story

At the age of 17, Eugene (Zephyr Benson) has lost his mother, due to death, and his father and sister due to abandonment. However, with Ivan (Adonis Rodriguez) by his side, and a full-ride scholarship opportunity, it seems things may just be alright. That is until he learns the rent is due, and has been for 3 months, and encounters Cruz (Aaron Costa Ganis). Someone who sees the same potential in Eugene as the college scouts. But, rather than see his potential for sports, he sees it for being one of his middlemen for drug dealing. Leaving us with Eugene faced with these two options: Figuring out a way to make 15 grand to pay back rent, dealing for the shady Cruz and trying to survive through him or, well there is no 3rd option.

Praise

Perhaps the best thing about this film is how it shows the privilege of athletes, and perhaps also caucasian folks, while showing that the process of getting involved with the drug business can be pretty much universal. To elaborate: As quickly as we meet the main players of the movie, we are introduced to the idea that Eugene comes from money, and because he comes from money, is white, and has athletic talent, there is a lot he can get away with. There is doing more drugs, and holding it, than your average Black person who gets arrested; dealing drugs at this school, without being arrested and just told to do it elsewhere; and him being recruited to work with Cruz since he just wouldn’t pop up on anyone’s radar.

Though, at the same time, while the focus may show Eugene’s original privilege, at the same time it shows how people getting into the drug game can have a universal story. After all, Eugene had talent and smarts, and certainly didn’t need the business at first, but then he came upon a money issue. Then, alongside that, with his parents unavailable, and sister as well, what Cruz presented was more than money opportunities, but family, and while financial stability may have been the original goal, with Eugene’s dad hardly acknowledging him, a hug and some sort of nurturing from Cruz filled a void in Eugene’s life in such a way that it made what he knew was wrong, and wasn’t that appealing, into something worth the trouble.

Criticism

The main issues I had with this film deals with questioning Eugene’s decisions. For example, why when things started to get bad for him, he didn’t just call Ivan? Also, considering how bad things got toward the end, why didn’t he try to track down his sister and maybe be with her? And it is questions like these which I found myself constantly asking, among which group stabbed Cruz and try to take his people down, that left me wondering how many people read this script before they decided to start filming?

Overall: TV Viewing

At best, this movie is decent enough to kill time with. What keeps it from being worth seeing though is that it relies on Eugene making one dumb move after another, rather than him seeming like he has any sort of common sense. And, granted, he is 17, but considering this private school he goes to, the relationship he seemed to have with Ivan, and a slew of other things, it makes his trajectory in the film seem more geared toward making drama, than having the character evolve, make logical mistakes and decisions, and seem like more than some silly boy with shallow, and mildly made comical, daddy issues.

Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?