Prince of Broadway
is being revered as a gem in the world of independent filmmaking. I prefer an indie film any day over a Hollywood blockbuster, but even independent films with good intentions can fall short of the glory. Directed by Sean Baker
, a White director who was born in New Jersey and raised in Manhattan, the film takes a voyeuristic look into the lives of people of color in urban New York City.
The central character is Lucky, played by what might be a strong actor in newcomer Prince Adu
, an illegal immigrant who aggressively sells knock-off merchandise. Anyone from an urban environment is familiar with this hustling gig. As a matter of fact, some of us might've had this gig in our youth.
When Lucky's Latina girlfriend randomly drops their child off and he suddenly must be a father, eyebrow-raising drama ensues. The "script" was mainly created through improvisation.
, an advocate of indies, has given the film a stamp of approval, which certainly gives the flick some merit. Nonetheless, Prince of Broadway
felt like an offensive hodgepodge of stereotypes, lack of direction and a "Look at the animals in their cage!" voyeurism. This could've been a solid movie with more character-building and a closer examination of poverty. Every character adheres to a stereotype, which begs the question -- aren't we past this? Spike Lee did this over 20 years ago
, but with grace and social commentary.
Prince of Broadway
is being coined a true New York film, but unlike the heavily improvised Kids
, each scene was manic, loud and at times, careless. Sure, there is low-budget filmmaking, but Prince of Broadway
was just plain lazy at times. Considering Baker is the co-creator of a television series on FOX (Greg the Bunny
) and MTV (Warren the Ape
), one would think there would be more care put into the project.
Maybe the perception is that the characters are so "raw," they need no thought. In one erratic scene, Lucky is frantically scampering around screaming the n-word more times than a slave master in Roots,
then rips off his shirt preparing to fight someone who allegedly stole his merchandise. No cohesion, no link to the story and looked more like an online web video that Bossip.com would post with a title that reads, "Here we go acting up again!"
Speaking of the n-word, the overzealous use of the word felt inauthentic. The ad-libbing actors seemed to be relying on what they perceived to be loudly "keeping it real" versus the care it takes to improvise dramatic scenes. Maybe if you aren’t familiar with the world Prince of Broadway
depicts then this might seem "real" and "edgy," but in truth, it was pushed.
That said, there was some strong acting, especially from Prince Adu; Bronx native Kat Sanchez
and Keyali Mayaga
, who was clearly the most experienced. All of the actors might truly excel in a flick with more direction. If anything, Prince of Broadway
might be a vehicle for these unknowns to get future work.