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Friday, June 5, 2015

STARRED UP (2013)

David Mackenzie’s ferocious father/son prison drama doesn’t know when to lay off, finally beating itself up into an ineffective pulp. It opens with documentary flavor as a muscled-up 19 yr-old kid is processed into the same big-time facility where his dad is doing time. That’s the gimmick, with Pops equally protective and competitive about how his kid will get by in the clink’s byzantine caste system. Constant brawls & psychopathic acting out make the boy dangerous to himself & others, yet also gain him entry into group therapy sessions that again leave the father ambiguously for and against it. Plenty of drama here. But Mackenzie is so afraid of interest running down, he overloads on violence & power plays; you can’t believe the kid would last a night against a system this organized & corrupt. Halfway thru, the plot can only move forward by having various inmates & guards behave with a level of loyalty & trust they would have abandoned years ago.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Tribeca Films tacks three trailers on this DVD, each a troubled-youth/coming-of-age story tinged with violence; none heard from after distribution pick-ups at some festival.

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