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Review “We Grown Now”


In Theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago on April 19, and Nationwide on April 26th

Reviewed by: Joy Parris-In “We Grown Now”  Director, Minhal Baig written and directed by Minhal Baig (Hala), takes place in 1992 Chicago, as Michael Jordan solidifies himself as a champion. It takes us on a journey of rediscovery, resonating with the values of a family and the bond that holds families together watching the two friends Malik (Blake Cameron James) and Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez), ten-year-old boys navigate their world with playfulness and wonder warms the heart.  Minhal captures a place and time that allowed us to journey in the minds of the two young boys.  

Malik (Blake Cameron James) and Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez)/Sony Pictures

The film opens with them pulling a stained mattress with the determination of mountain climbers intent on reaching their goal. The ritual of running and jumping off the mattress bed simulating the act of flying is something that we immediately recognize as an activity that binds and brings a sense of community to the children in the projects. The scene is a fitting metaphor for the journey that awaits them. In that moment the joy and freedom of childhood make a powerful statement that will remain embedded in one’s consciousness long after the film has ended and the credit’s role.

 They see their world filled with adventure and laughter through their young, hopeful eyes. They ride the trains and visit the Art Institute, everything they do is infused with play and humor. The bond between the boys is tight, and they promise to always stick together. Despite the challenges—like crime, drugs, and being overlooked by city officials—Cabrini-Green feels like home to its residents, who’ve created a real sense of community there. Many, including Malik’s mom Dolores (played by Jurnee Smollett), moved there with the hope of giving their children a better life.

Malik and Eric are like two sides of the same coin, each bringing his dreams, fears, and hopes to the table. Their friendship is the glue that holds their story together as they navigate the bittersweet realities of their neighborhood. There’s a raw honesty in how they deal with everything from family dynamics to the pressures of the outside world, all while trying to hold on to their aspirations and each other.

But their tight-knit friendship faces a heartbreaking test when seven-year-old Dantrell Davis is hit by a stray bullet while walking to school with his mom. Shaken by the tragedy, his mother, Dolores (played by Jurnee Smollett), feels it’s time to make a change, which means moving away. It’s going to be tough for Malik and Eric to handle this move—it’s going to shake up everything they know. With a new job offer in the suburbs and their grandmother Anita(S. Epatha Merkerson)pushing for the move, it looks like they’re going to have to face this inevitable shift.

Gemini Crown Tech All In One Production Management
Gemini Crown Tech
All-In-One Production Management

Minhal Baig has a knack for telling stories that hit you right in the feels, and “We Grown Now” is no exception. She brings Cabrini-Green to life with a mix of tenderness and honesty, never shying away from the tough stuff but also highlighting the moments of joy and hope. Setting the story in the Jordan era adds a cool layer of aspiration and identity, making the film as much about the place and time as it is about the characters.

“We Grown Now” does more than just tell a story; it invites viewers into a world where every street, every building, and every person has a story. It’s a tribute to the spirit of Cabrini-Green, the complexity of growing up, and the enduring power of friendship. Malik and Eric might be growing up in the shadow of a legend, but their story is legendary in its own right, reminding us that where we come from doesn’t define where we can go.

We Grown Now” stars Jurnee Smollett, Lil Rel Howery, Blake Cameron James, Gian Knight Ramirez, and S. Epatha Merkerson.

The film will hit theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago on April 19, 2024, before expanding nationwide on April 26th

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