on January 31, 1997 by Heidi Easter
   "Kickin' it" isn't easy for Stretch (Tim Roth) and Spoon (the late Tupac Shakur). In their unstable world of drug use, there's no such thing as security. For them, hope and self-worth are hard to find, starvation is inevitable and addictions are unavoidable. Life itself is uncertain, and death lurks around every corner of every street. Friends like Cookie (Thandie Newton), the female third of their poetic trio, face harm and horror on the streets with a certain omniscience. Making a buck to get by is challenging, especially for Spoon and Stretch, who prefer to engage in comic masquerades. The harsh language of their ghetto-like locale is as profane as that for Manhattan cabdrivers during morning rush. Still, their life is hardly bearable, so why not reform by seeking public assistance?
   The duo discover, however, that that reformation would mean hours of paperwork so tedious that even needles seem less painful. Yet Spoon fights passionately to salvage his fate; he even risks losing a kidney or liver in order to have a little hospital care thrown his way. Accompanied by his sidekick, while thinking of Cookie, Spoon faces an even tougher world than that from which he came--the U.S. government.
   "Gridlock'd" includes the best of several movie genres; it's comic and dramatic, true and adventurous. It also leaves the audience with a message that's deep and exceptional. Different from former films that have portrayed drug abuse as a glamorous way to survive, "Gridlock'd" demonstrates the real side of addiction, where using heroin and cocaine is like toying with a bomb.
   A story of guns, drugs, poverty, death and yet joviality, "Gridlock'd" provides an evening of superb entertainment. Roth is exceptional, as always, and even nonfans of the controversial rappist/actor Shakur will find his performance appealing. As did Brandon Lee with "The Crow," Shakur closes his film career with a great film. (As a way of honoring him, "Gridlock'd" ends with the dedication "For Tupac `One Love' RIP." Starring Tim Roth, Tupac Shakur and Thandie Newton. Directed and written by Vondie Curtis-Hall. Produced by Damian Jones, Paul Webster and Erica Huggins. A Gramercy release. Comedy. Rated R for graphic drug use, pervasive strong language, some violence and brief nudity. Running time: 91 min
Tags: Tim Roth, Tupac Shakur, Thandie Newton, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Damian Jones, Paul Webster, Erica Huggins, Gramercy, Comedy, dramatic, adventure, drug abuse

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