"Red Hook Summer" is a 2012 drama movie, directed and co-written by Spike Lee, and starring Clarke Peters as Bishop Enoch Rouse, and relatively unknown actor Jules Brown as his grandson, Flik.
The film's basic premise is that Flik, a young black man (probably around 12 or 13, although I don't believe the film states it explicitly), who has been raised in a relatively suburban, affluent part of Atlanta, goes to visit his grandfather in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn for the summer. His mother has been estranged from her father, but for some reason, she wants Flik to have a relationship with him. The theme of the movie revolves around the issues this brings up: younger, suburban, secular African-Americans confronting their older, urban and religious heritage. Flik has an ever-present iPad while his grandfather has a bible. Flik also has a hard time confronting the tougher streets of Red Hook. His grandfather, the bishop, despite his older and more conservative lifestyle, turns out to be a sympathetic and caring figure. Flik also develops a crush on a girl his age. Along the way, the movie says a few things about gentrification, generation gaps, and social change in the African-American community. But beneath that, this is a pretty universal story, because most people can relate to living with grandparents who have different values, but are caring people.
About 80 minutes into this movie, it takes the single laziest plot twist I can imagine. The type of plot twist that earlier, I was thinking "Will they...?" and then I breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out that Spike Lee was going to avoid it. And then, of course, he does it. It was a disappointment that undid all of the character and plot development that we had witnessed to that point, and that is done with a heavy hand. I almost stopped watching. The only reason I continued to watch is that the movie still was visually interesting after that point, and in fact, switched from being a socially realistic pseudo-documentary to something surrealistic. It was visually interesting enough that I kept watching, despite the story going to hell.
Spike Lee, as an African-American director, is probably best known for the social commentary of his movies, which in most cases is probably fair. With this movie, however, I felt that the message he was trying to communicate was muddled at best. But on a stylistic level, the imagery and framing of this movie kept my interest, after the plot failed to do so.