The biggest issue I had with Marcellus Cox's short film was that it was too short. It wasn't even technically about the general length, rather the way it ended. You see, reader, "Mickey Hardaway" ends exactly when you're expecting something to happen next. I understand the concept, to leave them wanting more, but this short film truly does give the term "open ending" a new meaning. Those who love serialized television would instantly recognize the new norm, which is a cliffhanger - in this case, however, there's nothing more to watch.
The film itself follows Mickey Hardaway as he desperately tries to follow his dream. He has artistic talent and has even received a grant, but the lack of support from his family, mainly his father, has become a huge issue. So much in fact that Mickey's father had even hidden away his acceptance letter with the hopes, he would never find out. Mickey's father is physically abusive, but the movie doesn't dwell on that as much as you may think. "Mickey Hardaway" is more about the consistent mental beatdown Mickey has taken; the constant proliferation that his dreams are unachievable and should be discarded because he's now an adult. This film is about giving up and the toll it takes not just on the person who gave in but their family for generations to come. The continuing cycle not only of dream killing, but abuse for the sake of a better life. That old debate, spare the rod and spoil the child brought front and center for your consideration. The short of this review? Well done indeed.
At under twenty minutes in length, a whole lot has been packed into this film. School life to home life and some stops in between as Mickey converses with his psychologist. But here I go making this film sound endlessly bleak when in truth, it is not. There are rays of hope that shine through. Mickey's guidance counselor and his psychologist are all supportive roles for our hero. Yet alas, the usual obstacles stand in the way, such as bullies and general stereotyping. All this plays out exactly as I'm sure Cox had envisioned but again, a more concrete ending would have been great. I do take into account that this film was intended as a concept piece - but I still wish something, anything, was resolved by the end.
"Mickey Hardaway" may be a black and white flick, but it shines in glorious technicolor. It's a nicely acted movie with some hard-hitting dialog and not so shiny truths. As a bonus, Cox's film is actually good beyond its message - it's incredibly entertaining. With a less open ending, I probably would have awarded an extra half star. Still, very well done and highly recommended. Four stars.