Adam Leon’s debut feature, “Gimme the Loot,” is a thousand-watt jolt of mischief, a spunky, funky, ebullient indie that packs its 81 minutes with cinematic exhilaration.
The lead characters are goofy Malcolm and mouthy Sofia, young Bronx graffiti taggers scheming to punk the hated Mets by leaving their mark on the animated apple that pops up in Citi Field after every home-team homerun. The daffy scheme is the scaffolding for a loose-limbed story that takes us all over New York City as our bickering spray-paint Picassos get themselves into endless scrapes and realize they’re actually sort of fond of each other.
The film was shot in a month for peanuts, yet it overflows with humor, sharply observed satire of cultural myths that circulate around race, and gritty local color. Everybody is trying to rip off everyone else. Malcolm swindles his pot dealers to make a sale to a spoiled rich girl who wants a walk on the wild side as part of the bargain. When preadolescent thieves grab Sofia’s bike, she shakes them down for a cellphone to sell at a shady bodega, where she gets scammed again. Plot dominoes fall in unexpected and entertaining ways. Even when our antiheroes are just wandering around talking, the dialogue (such as Sofia mixing up yarmulke and Hannukah) is priceless.
Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington are effortlessly engaging as platonic friends whose verbal scuffling conceals warmer feelings. Meeko Gattuso walks away with every scene he plays as Champion, a swindler and lock-picker who joins the pair for a bit of revenge-inspired burglary. With his tough talk and ferocious-looking facial tattoos, he looks like a certified thug, but looks can be deceiving. The soul-oldies soundtrack makes a charming counterpoint to this contemporary day-in-the-life urban comedy.