We Grown Now

We Grown Now tells a singular story that could very well speak for many families who grew up in Chicago’s now-demolished Cabrini-Green housing development.  And with impoverished minorities still feeling the struggle of finding a regular routine, writer/director Minhal Baig (One Night) has made a 90s period film that certainly holds a mirror up to contemporary society.

Despite being aware enough of their low-end living conditions, young best friends Malik (Blake Cameron James) and Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez) still find time to have fun;  notably when trying to impress the other when competing in their own personal sport of mattress jumping.  They have plenty of family time on their own as well: Malik’s mother Dolores (Jurnee Smollett of Netflix’s actioner Lou) shows an interest in her son’s adventures and schooling while Eric learns tough lessons from his father Jason (Lil Rel Howery, making a nice albeit brief departure from comedic fare like Bad Trip and the Vacation Friends movies).  When Dolores receives a work opportunity that would guarantee a brighter future but would also require her to uproot her family, the boys start to understand that they’re on different paths.

We Grown Now is a wistful and winning coming-of-age drama.  With moments of carefree nostalgia matched with melancholic youthful memories, Baig emulates the heart of a family unit when outsider conditions are growing more dangerous and unpredictable.  When Cabrini-Green is forced to undergo routine security checks that result in racial profiling, the viewer’s heartstrings are genuinely tugged because Baig and her cast have built such a fantastic emotional connection with the viewer leading up to those scary scenes.  Likewise for more innocent scenes featuring James and Ramirez, in breakout roles, at the forefront of We Grown Now.  The chemistry between the boys is so sweet and thoughtful, that the audience is in emotional disarray during their final, and bittersweet, scenes.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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