Life is Hot in Cracktown is one part Crash and one part Menace II Society. The central narrative revolves around a welfare hotel located in Any Ghetto, U.S.A., except this ghetto is far too diversely populated to really be—anywhere—in the USA, and the crack heads are too good looking. Brandon Routh (aka: Superman) plays a heroine addict, but he’s still too good looking. Nevertheless, the film is captivating in its ability to generate pathos for even its most lowly of characters (of which there are many). If recent trends away from darker films prevail (see box office revenues: Observe & Report versus Paul Blart for instance) these vignettes will not inspire summer moviegoers hopped-up on spring movie pollen. They’ll be looking for cinema with heroes and champions the likes of those found in the upcoming Transformers sequel or the live action G.I. Joe.
Based on his titular bestselling novels, writer/director Buddy Giovinazzo's tale of urban strife kicks off with a gang rape in broad daylight on a dirty mattress—then things get mean. The stories flow languidly (despite moments of intense drama that permeate almost every narrative frame) from one to the other, each knit to the next and the last by some character or circumstance. Romeo, played by Evan Ross, whose almost feminine good looks belie his ability to menace, is a young inner-city kingpin on the way up—and down. Marybeth (Kerry Washington) is a pre-operative transsexual with a boyfriend, “working” her way to her “true self.” Manny (Victor Rasuk) and Concettra (Shannyn Sossamon) are a young couple who live in the midst of this insanity with their constantly crying baby. Again, all of these people are too beautiful to be any of these characters, but whatever. They’re all good, and the writing is the stuff that urban dramas are made of, even if none of the actual actors in Life is Hot in Cracktown are.
Cast: Evan Ross, Shannyn Sossamon, Brandon Routh, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kerry Washington, Illeana Douglas, Victor Rasuk and RZA
Director/Screenwriter: Buddy Giovinazzo
Producers: Larry Rattner and William D. Fisch
Rating: Rated R for strong violence, rape, drug content throughout, graphic sexuality, nudity and pervasive language.
Running time: 100 min
Release date: June 26 NY