Markees Christmas and Craig Robinson in Morris From America.

Craig Robinson and Markees Christmas are one of the best father-son movie teams in a long time in Morris From America, a charmer from writer-director Chad Hartigan.

Christmas plays Morris, a 13-year-old American living in Germany, because his dad, Curtis (Robinson), has a job there as a soccer coach. Morris is learning German, trying to make friends, and developing a crush on older girl, Katrin (Lina Keller). He’s also dealing with the kind of crap you would expect a black American to be dealing with in an all-white city.

The dynamic between Robinson (in easily his best performance) and Christmas is perfect; it seems like these guys are really father and son. They complement each other perfectly, and it’s refreshing to see a father and son talk and deal with each other the way they do in this movie. The relationship between Morris and the somewhat-troublesome Katrin is also refreshing in that it never seems false.

The movie should get Christmas more roles in the future, while it should open the door for Robinson to play more dramatic parts—because he’s beyond good.

This a solid coming-of-age story in an unexpected and unpredictable locale, with a cast of characters (including Carla Juri of Wetlands as Morris’ tutor) that scores across the board. This is one of the summer’s great surprises.

Morris From America is now playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033). It is also available via online sources including iTunes and