Being down on your luck in your mid-twenties (evicted for missed rent, fired from minimum-wage job, no family or relationships to fall back on) can be extremely challenging for anyone. Going through this experience in Los Angeles, but having a buff body—albeit with limited sexual experiences—lead many young men to the late-night “park parade”, hoping that a generous man will be gentle and convinced to overpay.
In director Stoney Westmoreland’s first cinematic feature, he boldly creates the vision of writers Jonathan Browning and Mark Elias—who also stars as the man-in-search-of-his-mission, James—but can’t find a convincing way to forgive some of the flaws in both situational and character development.
Rescuing the almost sex worker from having to deliver his first blow job, the wonderfully named CQ (Lex Medlin plays the Daddy role with conviction and just the right amount of self-serving charity), brings James into his life and home. Then, before you say “How can I repay you?”, the almost hustler is coiffed, dressed and bejewelled—all the better to attend “business connection” soirées, before becoming trusted enough to be a drug mule for his benefactor all over town. Tellingly, after settling in with CQ, the lucky young man returns to his digs to collect “my things”, which turn out to be a well-worn copy of Catcher in the Rye—that paperback also housing a poignant family photo: angst and alienation redux.
Along the journey into a better life, James confesses his desire to be an artist (et voilà, a sketch pad and pencils magically appear), but now mixing with those with a taste for all manner of sex, drugs and rap, soon becomes a party boy ready to snort, drink and fuck all comers.
Natalie (Kimberly Westbrook, the “I know what I want and when I want it girl” is done up proud) salaciously looks forward to fresh meat; Houston (Logan Donovan, equally appealing dressed or not), scurries his new party bro down the slippery slope of cocaine, booze and bathroom sex; and the comely Josh (Paul Culos artfully serves as the queer anchor of calm) sets his sights on the would-be artist, only to be rewarded with an upscale gallery showing of his black-and-white photographs of “the different amongst us.”
To complete the destitute (financial) to destitute (morally) circle, James ends up on a pool table, buck naked being prodded, poked and balled in partial payment for a treacherous sin set up by his “loving” surrogate dad.
By journey’s end, as the lyrics (You gotta get away) profess, no one’s mission (save and except for Josh) has been accomplished. The tragedy is, by downplaying James’ artistic aspirations, most viewers will be left with the feeling that he got all he deserved (as did almost everyone else around him). That major inconsistency most certainly takes the shine off this golden boy. JWR