Charm City Kings

Drama | 125 Minutes

Canada: Friday, August 14, 2020

Sony Pictures Classics


for pervasive language, sexual references and some violence

Mouse (Jahi Di'Allo Winston) desperately wants to join Baltimore's infamous Midnight Clique, a fearless group of dirt bike riders who rule the summertime streets. When Midnight's leader, Blax (Meek Mill), takes 14-year-old Mouse under his wing, Mouse soon finds himself torn between the straight-and-narrow and a road filled with fast money and violence.

Cast & Crew

Movie Cast
  • Teyonah Parris
  • Jahi Di'Allo Winston
  • William Catlett
  • Jamaal Burcher
  • Rick Kelvin Branch
Movie Crew
  • Angel Manuel Soto
  • Christopher M. Boyd
  • Marc Bienstock
  • Clarence Hammond

User Reviews

Public Reviews - 1 Reviews
  • Gregory M. - Rated it 3 out of 5

    "Charm City Kings" Growing up in 'West Baltimore', 13-year-old Mouse (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) feels the fierce pull of different forces. Between notorious ex-con Blax (Meek Mill) and concerned Detective Rivers (William Catlett), and between the straight path set for Mouse by his concerned mother Queen (Teyonah Parris) and the dangers of gang life, which took his brother’s life. The one truth Mouse knows is that he loves the power, artistry and energy of 'The Ride', the exhilarating motorized-dirt-bike scene that's both pastime and passion on the streets of Baltimore. During one eventful summer, Mouse steers his way through a first girlfriend Nicki (Chandler Dupont), the pull of illegal choices and the thrill of stunt-riding that makes him and his friends feel like 'Charm City Kings'. On the streets of Baltimore, as in every major city in America, there are battles waging. Among them are big and small conflicts between police and the people they're supposed to protect; between mothers and their children who want different lives than the ones being planned for them; between mentors who represent the dark and light paths in life; and, inside the hearts of the kids becoming young men, a struggle to figure out why the things they enjoy are seen as dangerous, destructive, or damning. And often, the wrong forces win out. For Mouse what he loves is the motorized, urban dirt bike scene that has been a crucial part of Baltimore street life for 50 years. That culture has created it's own music genre, it's own styles, and local celebrities in the community including DeWayne Davis, Chino, and Lakeyria Doughty. They ride 'Yamahas' and 'Hondas' which they use to create genuinely incredible tricks, including 'The 12 O’Clock' move. Popping a wheelie, and as the bike is on it's back wheel, turning the handlebars completely vertical as if they're clock hands facing high noon. But the riders lives can turn upside-down in unforeseen ways. Yet there’s an artistry to the riding, and a lure for the streets criminal element. Without any official bike parks, the riders and their revved-up 'ATVs' and dirt bikes use the streets, as the police have a no chase policy. The dirt bike crew called 'The Midnight Clique' owns the streets and the nightly summertime ritual called 'The Ride', when fans and riders alike come out to see 'The Midnight Clique' and their leader. These kids just want the options to pursue their dreams, and the only things they do find is what's at the street corners. That oppression is a subconscious warfare that's embedded in systematic oppression. These kids are artists, they're masters of their craft when they’re on their bikes, and yet their craft has been labeled ‘criminal. The film revolves around Mouse’s coming-of-age story, his friendships and conflicts with his pals Lamont (Donielle T. Hansley) and Sweartagawd (Kezii Curtis), his flirting with new girl in the neighborhood Nicki, his pull between mentor figures, and the magnet that illegal activities have on young kids. The atmosphere of the dirt bike riding community provides a backdrop. We can make things better for them and for all of us not by policing more or giving them harsh criminal penalties, but by making it easy for them to do what they love. Mouse is young, he wants to be cool, he wants to be on the bike so he can get a girl and people look at him with respect. He’s very mature, but he's nonetheless still a kid, his experiences in life are not tainted by adulthood, and that type of innocence is integral in all three boys who play Mouse. He's the face of the underrepresented. This is a kid that you may pass in his neighborhood and maybe be a bit scared of, but that’s not him. But there are other issues. The police often can’t tell the criminals from the normal kids. So if you just have 'Timberlands' and a hoodie on, you get harassed. But when they’re on the bikes, because the Baltimore police have a no-chase policy, that’s the only time in the city where the police can’t stop them. So it’s in the kids’ interest to stay on those bikes as long as they can. When you feel you can get killed by someone who looks just like you, the police are your enemy, and you don’t have a lot of money, when you’re on a dirt bike, all of that goes away and you’re free. The appeal of 'The Midnight Clique', whose appearance brings a look of awe to the faces of Mouse, Lamont, and Sweartagawd, is multilayered. Mouse has dreams of becoming a veterinarian, and has a genuine talent for it, and then that future is threatened by the choices he finds himself facing. Mouse sees the camaraderie in 'The Midnight Clique'. What people don’t get about gang culture is that the reason kids are drawn to it's because it echoes a family dynamic. You feel a sense of belonging, you feel like you’re appreciated and that you can contribute something. Often, disenfranchised people don’t feel like they can contribute or that they’re valued. That’s the easiest thing gangs provide, which is why kids may take that loyalty to another level, because you feel like they love you, like they did with Mouse’s brother. A lot of the mistakes Mouse makes are because he’s acting on the advice of toxic masculinity. Blax is a character rich in complexity and charisma dealing with guilt and the reality of second chances. The complexity of the gang is personified in Blax, a legendary rider who's back from spending time in prison, and who used to lead bike riders into robberies but whose focus now is keeping straight while working as a mechanic. When Mouse and Blax cross paths, the teen is ready for a father figure, though Blax’s life lessons wind up to be more protective, to Mouse’s confusion and surprise. Blax is motivated by guilt for Mouse’s brother’s death, though he comes to see Mouse as his own person. Blax is not an archetypal bad guy. He was a good kid and got corrupted, now he’s just playing the hand he was dealt. And if you’re going to deal with him, you've to play by the rules of the dark side that he himself is still dealing with. They’re the only ones who can do what they do. There are different ways of popping wheelies in Baltimore. Their style even sounds different, it’s a fast revv-revv, and then instead of using their brake, they put on the gas even more while balancing the bikes. It's illegal to ride the dirt bikes the way that they do, and a lot of the police look at them as enemies or criminals, and a lot of people in the city don’t like the dirt bike riding. So when you put it in that perspective, the film contains a cautionary tale on the pressures that are put on the kids in that world. A humbleness and hospitality in the face of struggle. The other adults in Mouse’s life exert a force on him away from Blax and 'The Midnight Clique', are his mom and Detective Rivers. Mouse’s mom can be harsh. It’s not that she doesn’t love Mouse, but she lost her oldest son, and she doesn’t know how to be affectionate. Because in her eyes, affection makes boys weak, and Mouse cannot be weak in this dangerous world. So the only thing she knows about parenting is that she has to be strong, and she’s has to be in order to raise three kids on her own. She’s been through so much, and she’s been broken and hurt. But it’s a very difficult character because the reality is, it’s such a harsh existence. It’s not an easy life that people like Mouse’s mom have in cities like Baltimore in that situation. Mouse reminds her of his own father. As a mother, she has to juggle it all herself, so Mouse has to grow up too fast and take care of his sister Shay (Milan Ray) when he’s just 13 years old. That’s the reality in so many inner cities in 'The U.S.', kids 11 or 12 years old are taking care of 5-year-old siblings. That’s a responsibility they're not ready for. But Mom simultaneously shows the happiness in her home, laughing with Mouse as the young boy, hoping to be a veterinarian when he gets older, chases his mom after handling a newborn kitten. Those lighter moments were really important for the character. When people are broke and living paycheck to paycheck, they often have to laugh in order not to cry. And when in one scene Mouse brings her a box of cigarettes, some may say ‘that’s horrible', but he knows she’d enjoy them. And also, Mouse isn’t even old enough to buy cigarettes, but that’s the truth of the world they’re in. They may not have much but they've each other, and that's more valuable than anythin, Detective Rivers is Mouse’s mentor. He knows what wrong turns can bring. Mouse wonders if he’s motivated by guilt for being a cop, or, as Blax says, “not black but blue'. Rivers isn’t a pushy cop, he’s almost a step-dad to Mouse, he cares for him to the point that he’s willing to put his job on the line in order to give Mouse another chance. But Rivers also understands the appeal of 'The Midnight Clique'. When he’s speaking with Blax, Rivers says, ‘I’ve been working to get Mouse to a place in this world, and now you come and shift his potential'. It all comes from a place of love for Rivers. It’s a cinematic struggle, somebody we think is a good guy, Rivers, does have his flaws, and someone you thought was bad, Blax, turns out to have a good heart. They’re real people, and you see in the end the mutual respect both of these father figures have for each other, based on their shared love of this young boy. Because it’s easy to do that; just like it’s easy to make the criminals bad. Which is why Blax’s character has that other side to him, a kinder side. And we see Rivers actually care about Mouse; even when he gets frustrated and angry, it’s an honest depiction of what that’s like. Based on the documentary '12 O’Clock Boys', "Charm City Kings" is one boy’s unforgettable journey toward manhood. "Charm City Kings" pulses with teen gusto, thumping hip-hop, and amazing bike tricks. The film creates a narrative bursting with pitch-perfect performances and intoxicating emotion. The music is essential to the film’s tapestry of influences. For just as the character of Blax awes Mouse and his friends, and then surprises with his complexity and heart, so too does the songs, which weave energy and essence to a fictional story set in a very topical world, filled as it's with tragedy, turmoil and the threats to unrealized dreams. The music for this movie has to be the music of the streets. The music is another part of this film that elicits emotion. Swizz Beatz, and now Meek Mill, makes the music that's so crucial to this culture. Swizz of course created the sound for the dirt bike culture back in 1998, producing 'DMX’s' song ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem'. We've that song at the end of the movie over the sequence of real riders doing stunts, because that’s what started it all. And now, Meek Mill is the new voice of that culture. written by Gregory Mann

NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to