(director/writer: Nick Richey; cinematographer: Nathan Presley; editor: John Quinn; music: Matthew Chiarelli/Stephen Schofield; cast: Dallas Dupree Young (Tommy), Ali Richey (Ava), Mylen Bradford (Steve), Gerrison Machado (Neill), DaJuan Johnson (Russ), Nicole Steinwedel (Jenny, stepmom), Brent Bailey (Officer Riden); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Trevor Lee Georgeson/Ben Jagger/Zach Mann/Warren Perira/Nathan Presley/Nick Richey/Ali Richey/Phoenix Vaughn; Quiver Distribution/A Sight House release; 2022)

“Moving adolescent coming-of-age comedy.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Nick Richey (“Low, Low”) directs and writes this moving adolescent coming-of-age comedy that takes place in SoCal over one hectic night.

The 13-year-old Tommy (Dallas Dupree Young) gets a charge out of using a credit card he stole from his half-sister to call a phone-sex line from a phone booth and hear a hip lady called Ava (Ali Richey) talk dirty. Also present are his friend O’Neil (Gerrison Machado) and O’Neill’s cousin Steve (Mylen Bradford).

The youngsters want some action and convince Tommy to grab some beer from his home. But his dad (DaJuan Johnson) stops him. Moments later the police break into the house on a drug raid and arrest Tommy’s father and all his poker playing friends, and his hated stepmom (Nicole Steinwedel). A cop tries to convince Tommy to go with his baby half-brother to the station house and have a social worker make arrangements where they can stay, but he doesn’t trust the cop and flees into the night with his other two pals.

On the street, they tangle with some petty thieves, take some stolen Vicodin and catch up with their female friends. Feeling blue, Tommy keeps calling the 800 number to chat with Ava, as she seems to be the only adult he trusts.

What makes this sketchy film work, even if its clunky, is the three lead wayward kids seem authentic and work well together. What surprised me was how well the low-budget film was photographed. 

REVIEWED ON 12/27/2022  GRADE: B-