Mission Park Has the Originality of a Basic-Cable Cop Drama


Poor old Michael Jackson never experienced anything like a real life unmediated by money, power, or the acquired narcissism of the super-famous. So most of his song lyrics–poems about satin-jacket-clad street gangs and law-breaking smoothness-evincers–sound like things he saw on TV. The narrative shorthand of basic-cable cop dramas colors the American psychic landscape, tainting the expectations of jurors, and inspiring the work of lazy screenwriters like some sloppy, unshaven muse who’s had it up to here with your loose-cannon police work. The tense prologue of writer-director Bryan Ramirez’s Mission Park, in which a group of mostly Latino middle-school kids robs a taqueria and shoots an old lady, evokes a tactile, scary reality utterly betrayed by the following 90-minute string of hackneyed, basic-cable plotting and dialogue. Bobby Ramirez (Jeremy Ray Valdez) and his adopted brother, Julian (Will Rothhaar), garner both grudging respect and simmering jealousy from their street-hardened childhood friends when they graduate from high school. The story skips the next six years, jumping ahead to the brothers’ final weeks at the FBI training academy, during which Ms. Vivica Anjanetta Fox barges into a single scene to bark out the film’s stupid premise: Bobby and Julian–despite being total rookies–are enjoined to infiltrate the narcotics gang run by their childhood buds. You probably saw the ensuing narrative of betrayal, murder, and undercover investigation on Silk Stalkings, Miami Vice, 21 Jump Street, Hardcastle and McCormick, Profiler, or The Cosby Mysteries. The whole point being that if you’re inspired to write based on experiences you had while watching the USA Network, please at least try to be as awesome as Michael Jackson.