'Up Against the Wall' means well but is trapped by a flimsy budget

On movies

April 23, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

"Up Against the Wall,'' a cautionary tale against drugs, dropping out and loose sex, is deficient in almost every department, but it means well. It means to be constructive and it is -- for that, we are inclined to forgive the movie its ineptitude, bad photography, some bad performances and less than even direction.

The direction was done by Ron O'Neal, who has been around a long time and can probably do better work, given more funds.

O'Neal also appears in the film. He plays a high school track coach who has two sons. He also has a third son but doesn't know about him because the boy's mother never told the coach she was carrying his child. The coach was married at the time. There was trouble in the marriage, and an extramarital offspring was the result.

The coach's illegitimate son is good. He is almost unbelievably good. He is loyal to his mother, doesn't do drugs and is on the track team, the same team managed by the man who is really his father.

Marla Gibbs plays the boy's mother. She has another son who is doing very well as a drug seller. He lives in a better ] neighborhood, so his younger brother goes to live with him so he can attend a better high school.

It isn't an ideal situation, however. Older brother tries to use younger brother as a drug courier. Younger brother rebels, and when he does, older brother is in trouble.

The younger brother is eventually told that the coach is really his father, and everything ends well in the film, which, to its credit, extols the virtues of staying in school.

''Up Against The Wall'' was produced by the Chicago-based African American Images, a publishing house. They did the film on a slim budget, and we are made well aware of this by the poor soundtrack. The score is typical of this independently made, inexpensive film. It is progressive and monotonous, and in time, you want to bolt the theater.

The score also includes the title song, which is repeated and repeated when one playing may be too much.

''Up Against the Wall'' is showing at local houses. You may snicker as the movie travels along, but there is no denying that its heart is in the right place.

Cotero Colbert plays the high school student, and Stoney

Jackson is the older brother who is living high off the cocaine trade.

''Up Against the Wall''

* A ghetto youth goes to live with his older brother who is a drug seller.

CAST: Marla Gibbs, Ron O'Neal, Cotero Colbert, Stoney Jackson

DIRECTOR: Ron O'Neal

RATING: PG-13 (sex, violence)

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