Walk The Line: Our Review of ‘We Grown Now’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 10, 2024
Walk The Line: Our Review of ‘We Grown Now’

There are things about Malik (Blake Cameron James) and Eric’s (Gian Knight Ramirez) childhood that are normal and things that aren’t. Even if they are growing up in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green project, they’re still 90s latchkey kids. They walk around their neighbourhood and do things like tell each other jokes and debate each other. They aren’t old enough to do anything too bad but they are old enough to skip school. Despite having a relatively normal childhood, the adult world moves on and affects their seemingly insular world. The shootings around them and the police discrimination makes Malik’s mother (Jurnee Smollett) want better things.

Cabrini-Green may be the setting of Minhal Baig’s new film but it doesn’t always stick to that neighbourhood. We Grown Now shows its characters as active agents in their lives, able to move and see. This is not me endorsing skipping school, but those multiple scenes show that Malik and Eric are smart, and even if they use kid logic, they have ideas on how to take advantage within their world. “Find a woman that can buy YOU dinner,” a problematic, funny thing one of them says. That trip has shades of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but with them seeing how the world sees Black people.

We Grown Now, a film about Black children, walks the fine line of showing problems without being too much of a downer. Viewers can see the housing’s problems weighing down on the faces of its residents, regardless of their age. We see it in the face of Malik’s mother during an interview for a job outside Chicago. Yes, in general, the film moves in ways that one might expect while choosing to watch it. The musical cues are there to lift us up even in an environment where few people can flourish. The scenes with the adults and those sincere moments, at least, thankfully break up its usual rhythms.

We Grown Now tries and mostly succeeds to present its viewers with a different perspective of life. This is technically Malik’s film, showing us his dreams and nightmares and how he processes his thoughts. Sometimes Malik has scenes with his mother and the latter is actively listening to her child verbalise himself. But of course, we also get to see Eric’s home life with his father (Lil Rel Howery). Half of the films about children show adult characters as Charlie Brown-esque shadowy figures, oblivious towards their children. But giving both generations their spotlight gives this film the kind of nuance, elevating it.

Watch We Grown Now in select Canadian theatres.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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