Written and Directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker
Starring Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, Dennis Quaid and Zoe Kravitz
Running time: 1 hour and 42 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for gun violence and intense action, suggestive material, language, thematic elements and drinking
by Benjamin Leonard, Best Boy
Kin is very simple story set in the cliché of downtrodden, hard-workin Detroit but with a Paper Girls-like sci-fi twist.
First off, Detroit is not the gutted out shit-pile where the only way you can make a buck is by stripping copper pipes and wiring out of the endless burned-out blocks of abandoned buildings. Sure. That’s still a thing. But it’s not the only thing. There’s a lot of people that are working really hard across multiple sections of the economic spectrum to bring life back into the city. Yeah. There’s still plenty of stories you could tell about the dumpster fire that was Detroit, but there’s other places that are worse off at the moment. I’m just kinda sick of that Detroit as a trope in film. Also, they fucking shot this in Toronto! Way to not help the Detroit economy, you asses!
OK. Ok. ok.
Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, on with the rest of the review. At its core, you can tell that the film is trying really hard to tell an endearing, exciting and entertaining story of family and what you’ll do to keep together and help each other out. But not just the family you’re born into. There’s the family that finds you, the family you find and the families you form out of shared experiences. These things are all in the movie. You just kinda have to dig for them.
Mostly, the movie is about a young boy, Eli (Myles Truitt), Jimmy (Jack Reynor) his shithead brother and Milly (Zoë Kravitz) the stripper they befriend while on the run from a vengeful thug (James Franco) that is trying to murderlate them all. Oh.
So. The good things about this movie. There are a couple good blow-em-up scenes with the gun that you didn’t already see in the trailers that are pretty cool and worth a little theater yellin'. This was adapted from a short film and, unlike many other shorts made into features, it leaves you wanting more rather than feeling like it overstayed its welcome by twenty minutes. And, finally, there is some straight-up bonkers shit for a twist at the end that will make you lose your mind if someone didn’t spoil it for you already. Seriously. If you know what happens at the end of this movie, don’t ruin it for people. It’s really the best thing this movie has going for it.
And that’s the main problem I have with the movie. It knows it has this big payoff ending. So it gets a little slow and lazy with the storytelling to get you there. And the performances were just OK. Nothing terrible, but nothing stellar. Franco’s accent was terrible though. He was supposed to be a Detroit thug, born and raised, but sounded more like a New York tough guy. It just didn’t work for me. In addition to all that, I feel like writers/directors/brothers Baker didn’t really know how to transition from the family drama to the road movie to the rayguns. Now granted, this is their first feature, but it shows.
Now. Onto the raygun. So. According to the trailers, this is a raygun movie. I’m not nuts about that concept, but I was willing to go along for the ride. They could do it right. I could have fun. But guess what? The raygun is barely in it! And when it is, it’s as a metaphor for this kid’s penis. But it’s not in a preachy, super-liberal, guns are bad and only there to fill a hole left by your lack of manhood way. No. It’s in a creepy, pubescent boy learning that he has this thing that gives him power over others and can cause them harm and he’s into it and wants to use it. Early on, he’s hiding it from everyone. So, he goes into the shower and starts playing with it so no one can hear him. Then, later on, the first time he whips it out in public, it’s at a strip club. I can’t believe I’m typing these words. It’s so ridiculous. But it’s true. This is what is in the movie. At one point, Milly even refers to it as his “thing”. Yes. This whole time I’m writing about the gun. But there’s no nod, no wink, no indication that it’s a gag. The film doesn’t go on to tell me anything other that this is a totally natural way to represent it. I’m still baffled.
All of that aside, I’d say this movie is probably worth watching for the heart and entertainment that it provides. Just don’t expect any great performances or uplifting messages. It’s just drinkin', fightin', drivin', and raygun shootin'. Nothing more.