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15 to Life

1 rating: -3.0
A movie directed by Moon Jones

A young filmmaker gets more than she bargains for while shooting a documentary on the troubled lives of two teenage boys. 15 TO LIFE tells the story of a couple of street kids who follow their convict father's footsteps into the prison system. As … see full wiki

Director: Moon Jones
Release Date: 2002
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about 15 to Life

15 to Life

  • Sep 11, 2004
Pros: ........

Cons: acting or lack thereof

The Bottom Line: This movie is simply a damn shame

Try this - walk into any classroom, preferably one that has a lot of chalkboards, place your hand on the chalkboard and start walking around the room dragging your fingernails along the surface. Do this for 81 minutes while some nasal sounding, large breasted, blonde bimbo drones endlessly in your ear, in a kinda Fran Dressler sounding voice. Add background music from Wink-Daddy-Puff-Boom telling ya a ...... gotta do what a ...... gotta do and just for fun, throw in a murder or two.

You’ve just sat through 15 to Life.

I seem to be set on some course of watching the endless stream of false documentaries that were released in tandem since this gem followed up my excursion in search of the Jersey Devil with The Last Broadcast. The truly sad thing about 15 to Life is that the meat and bones of the story is true and a real documentary should be done about the situation with young black boys in desperate conditions in the United States. Maybe there has been and I've missed it. If so, I'm sorry for this rant.

15 to Life was the alleged documentary about 3 brothers, accused of murder and sentenced to prison. The story has two avenues - one of the boys, only 15 years old, was an honor student with all the promise in the world. Wrong place at the wrong time. His two step-brothers were harder material but they loved their brother and vowed to protect him once they got inside. Their idea of protection is to get placed in the same cell as their father. A family reunion if you will.

Father, aka Satan or 666, is a pretty hard dude in for murder, drugs, whatever you can name he’s there for it. He is following in his father’s footsteps, although his father escaped from prison years ago and has never been caught.

What is discovered through this docu-drama, by that whining sniveling columnist (by the way, her name is Lily White. Don’t even go there) is that the 3 boys were set up on this particular case. They never actually murdered the policeman, in the sense that they didn’t have the gun or pull the trigger that killed him. However, because they committed a robbery and as a result the policeman was killed - by his partner I might add - they got nailed for the crime. Turns out the partner ends up in the same prison with these boys and Satan, but that is going too far into the story for me to describe.

The Unrealities
1. This over-sexed, skimpily dressed blonde bimbo would have never been allowed inside the prisoners cells unescorted. Especially for the amount of time she spent there. Now what is really strange, when she takes them to interview rooms for a one-on-one, there is always a guard in attendance, but when she is sitting on their bunks in their cells pulling a Sharon Stone Basic Instinct scene, there is no one but her and her camera and sound guy. Right.

2. The two older brothers are purported to be hardassed bad nosed criminals. Several murders under their belts in the past, drugs, prossys, etc. Yet as soon as she starts interviewing them they begin to whimper and cry, even in the presence of other cons. Right.

3. The warden has the balls to ask her crew to rig up closed circuit monitors in Satan’s cell so that they can catch him doing drug deals and hopefully get him transferred out of their prison system and into the Federal system. He states they don’t have the equipment to do this. Right.

The Damn Shames
It’s a damn shame that this was allowed to be filmed in the manner it was portrayed. Even more appalling was the fact that these black actors agreed to portray themselves as stereotypical repressed black youth, constantly picked on by the white cops, living in squalor conditions. Not that these statements are not true but the way they were presented in this movie was an abomination.

I’m fully aware that in parts of the free land that we know as the United States that there are youths that are profiled as likely suspects in any crime, simply because of their race or religion. Had writer/director Moon Jones elected to actually delve into the truths in this instance, I am sure he would have had no problem in locating several youths to do a true documentary on instead of putting this falsehood to film.

The language chosen was so clich├ęd that one had to laugh instead of feeling the depths of grief and injustice these boys met in prison and in their lives in general. I do, in fact, believe there are many youths today that are targeted and often find no other course to follow except a life a crime. Born into a life with a drug addicted mother and a father in prison, they have no familial guidance to help them mold their lives.

The boys in this case had a mother that didn’t follow the mold. She worked and kept a neat and clean home, even in the squalor of the projects. A different story comes out later but certainly not one of drug and/or alcohol abuse.

So, yes, it is a damn shame that someone, maybe a Spike Lee type, can’t do a true documentary about this reality in America instead of this pissant piece of wasted film.

Acting, directing, and all that jazz
Selection for actors was probably the first mistake after writing this film. Not a single one is believable in their part. Checking on IMDB I find that almost to the tee all of these ’actors’ appeared in this film only and have no other work to their credit. Understandable.

Since only two were identified by the character they played, I can only assume that the whitebread, breast enhanced, miniskirted, bleached blonde interviewer was Stephanie Robin Tremblay. By picking this name out of the hat I am joining the stereotypical Americans that just assume this whining little white girl would be named Stephanie and not one of the black and more vocal females in the movie, like the mother for instance. In this movie Stephanie's talent knows no bounds. Instead of reaching even the remotest inkling of any high it sinks to the depths of Hell. If she would have screeched “Excuse ME?” one more time, I would have killed her myself.

My choice for Satan had to be the actor known as Black Menace. Again, a stereotypical decision. Menace = Satan. IF he were supposed to be this hardassed dude there is no way he would have draped across his bed and conversed with this little ‘white-bread-bitch’ as he so lovingly called her.

As for the balance of the actors, they must have pulled them off the street and paid them - I don’t know - a buck eight-five to work on this film. They were just horrible.

The bottom line
Maybe I’m wrong, God knows I am most of the time, but this was just a miserable representation of how it is in the world today. But in a way it is also a true representation of the plight of non-Caucasian youth in America. Repression and profiling isn’t restricted to simply black youth but that is the bulk of the problem. And if a piece-of-shit film like this can be made, bought, and sold, then a true work can and should be produced highlighting the destruction of young people today.

The other weird thing, I didn’t have a problem with the music. It is descriptive GanstaRap but that is their world. Their songs tell the true story and if they have to throw in those mudderfuckers and niggahs to get their point across, it isn’t my place to say it is wrong. For the most part I like rap music, even the worst of it. I am a great fan of Tupac because I think his music had/has a powerful story yet to be discovered. The music, which went unaccredited unfortunately, told another powerful story in this film. It told a lot more than the script even attempted.

On the other side of the coin, I believe that each person is born as a blank slate. According to the great plan, we all come into the world the same way and it is our personal choice to follow a path that will lead us in a direction to find a goal in life. I also believe that some people are just born evil stemming from a long line of evil genes in their little systems. But I also believe that each person can be governed and formed by their surroundings, family group, and peers.

Not every non-Caucasian has to end up on either side of a gun or behind bars, just because it is expected of them or because their momma or daddy did. In the same vein, not every whitebread youth is gonna grow up to be a lawyer or doctor. Some of us are gonna just be plodders in life, making the everyday work world turn on its axis, be we white, black, orange, green or yellow.

It’s lousy movies like this that put a damper on youth today and make the older generation say - See, I told you so. If I had the resources and the talent, I’d search out my own trio of youths to profile because that is the real story that needs to be brought out.

This movie should be burnt at the stake. It’s a damn shame.


PS I used the term ‘non-Caucasian’ only because I wanted to cover all groups and not limit myself to African Americans, even though this movie targeted African Americans.


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