Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Black Boy Joy illuminates the delightful We Grown Now

Filmmaker Minhal Baig takes audiences to Windy City for her third directorial effort in “We Grown Now” from Sony Pictures Classics. Baig also pens the screenplay, which is set in 1992. In the vibrant heart of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green, two inseparable pals, Malik (played by Blake Cameron Jones) and Eric (portrayed by Gian Knight Ramirez), transform their bustling neighborhood into a playground of dreams. 

More brothers than friends, these two view each day as an adventure waiting to unfold through their bright-eyed and endlessly imaginative lenses. From cheering on Michael Jordan during his spectacular slam dunks to reigning supreme in local jumping contests or cracking up over silly jokes between classes, Malik and Eric embrace every moment with fearless joy. Malik’s mother, Dolores (Jurnee Bell), is the cornerstone of love and stability at home. Her unwavering support ensures that no outside challenge could ever obscure the dreams her children are chasing. 

Even when adversity hits close to home—shaking the foundations of their tight-knit community—the boys’ bond faces challenges but emerges resilient. They grow stronger together, aided by a family who has taught them how to navigate life’s ups and downs. Amidst it all stays a precious truth: they matter immensely; their hopes are mighty; and ‘home’ will always be where they find laughter & love amidst familiar faces. Every scene pulses with elements of visual splendor—a testament to just how magical childhood can be when viewed through rose-colored glasses of hope and companionship.

I really enjoyed watching ‘We Grown Now’ as someone who was the same age as the lead characters in 1992. The acting in the film was excellent. The adults in the movie, played by Jurnee Bell, Lil Rel Howrey, and S. Epatha Markesan, all gave wonderful and sincere performances. However, what impressed me the most were the two young actors playing Malik and Eric. They portrayed the feeling of being eleven years old in a very natural and authentic way. Even though I didn’t grow up in the same neighborhood as the characters in the film, I could still relate to their experiences.”

The film captures the essence of brotherhood, showcasing the deep bond between Eric and Malik as they weather the storms of life together. Their relationship is a source of strength and solace, a beacon of light in the darkness surrounding them. Through their trials and triumphs, we witness the resilience and determination of these two young boys as they confront the challenges of poverty, violence, and systemic injustice. Against this backdrop, the film delves into the complexities of race, identity, and belonging in a city divided by lines of segregation and prejudice.

Through nuanced performances and authentic storytelling, the actors breathe life into their characters, capturing the raw emotions and struggles that define their experiences. The cinematography of “We Grown Now” is a visual feast, capturing the vibrancy and grittiness of 1992 Chicago in stunning detail. From the city’s bustling streets to the quiet moments of introspection, each frame is imbued with a sense of urgency and authenticity that draws the audience into the world of Eric and Malik. My one tiny gripe with the film is the lack of nineties music on the soundtrack, but the acting will linger in your heart long after the credits roll, a timeless tale of love, courage, and the enduring power of friendship.

Final Grade: A

“We Grown Now” is in theaters now

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