PRINCE OF BROADWAY (director/writer: Sean Baker; screenwriter: Darren Dean; cinematographer: Sean Baker; editor: Sean Baker; cast: Prince Adu (Lucky), Karren Karagulian (Levon), Aiden Noesi (Prince), Keyali Mayaga (Karina), Kat Sanchez (Linda), Victoria Tate (Nadia); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Darren Dean; Flatirin Film; 2008)

“A story just as counterfeit as the fake brand purses its characters are pushing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sean Baker (“Take Out”)directs this low-budget sentimental dramedy about unexpected fatherhood giving a lost soul street hustler a more human presence. It’s cowritten by Baker and Darren Dean, who capture the realistic flavor of the streets for its pesty streetwise merchants who operate with reckless abandon at the underbelly of NYC’s famous garment district selling fake prestige. Unfortunately the narrative, told documentary style by a cast of non-professionals, seems about as real as the knock-off goods it’s selling.

Illegal immigrant from Ghana, Lucky (Prince Adu), hustles illegal knock-off brand merchandise on Broadway. His boss Levon (Karren Karagulian), an Armenian-Lebanese immigrant, who married three years ago to get a green card, operates a storefront with a concealed back room filled with showcased fake goods. Lucky uses his gift of gab to lure bargain-hungry customers into the store by hustling in the bustling streets fake name brand products sold cheaply. Free-spirit Lucky’s life dramatically changes when his low-life loud-mouth ex-girlfriend Linda (Kat Sanchez) leaves him an unnamed 18-month-old boy (Aiden Noesi) and says he’s the father, as she callously splits to live with her thug boyfriend. Life becomes complicated for Lucky, who bemoans his fate for the rest of the film and is not even sure the mixed race lightskinned kid is his. Lucky doesn’t know how to care for the kid and his current girlfriend Karina (Keyali Mayaga) doesn’t joyously accept the news of his fatherhood.

The film’s theme about the new immigrants pursuing a fake American Dream gets the heavy-handed treatment, and the pic ends on a messy pat false note giving us the impression that things will be OK because Lucky finally accepts responsibility to look after the child and will soon earn money again because he’s ready to resume working as a hustler as soon as his boss clears up the matter of a court appearance resulting from the police raid at his storefront.

The filmmaker implies that it’s OK to pursue wanting fake goods and perverting the American Dream, which seemed to me a bogus life lesson that never can get past seeming to be a story just as counterfeit as the fake brand purses its characters are pushing.

REVIEWED ON 11/22/2011 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”