Zig Zag (2002) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for strong language and sexual content, elements of drugs and violence
Running Time: 101 min.
Cast: Sam Jones III, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, Wesley Snipes, Natasha Lyonne
Director: David S. Goyer
Screenplay: David S. Goyer (based on the novel by Landon S. Napoleon)
Review published March 15, 2002
David S. Goyer's previous work includes screenwriting credits on such films as Blade (and Blade II), Dark City, The Crow: City of Angels, Death Warrant and Kickboxer 2. Not exactly work brimming with character development. Curiously, Goyer's first time directing a film (which he also adapted from a book by Landon J. Napoleon) goes in the exact opposite direction, ditching action pieces and barebones plotting for a more character driven piece, relying on personalities than on explosions. In fact, ZigZag succeeds far beyond it's contrived story primarily due to the fact that we come to like the characters, well portrayed by Sam Jones (Glory Road, Home of the Brave) and John Leguizamo (Spawn, Titan A.E.), regardless of the hard-to-swallow antics they go through.
An autistic young Black youth nicknamed "ZigZag" working in a local restaurant as a dishwasher steals over $9,000 from his racist boss' safe in order to pay his abusive junkie father for rent ($200). Of course, Daddy takes it all, but ZigZag's Big Brother Singer (the volunteer worker not an actual relative) wants to keep the boy from juvenile hall and the two try to give the money back. However getting the money from the dangerous father proves a dangerous prospect, and with testicular cancer quickly threatening to steal the life away from Singer, the two must act fast to keep ZigZag on the straight and narrow before a street-smart cop nabs them first. If that's not dangerous enough, the father has given the money to repay his own vices, and the two confront a sleazy bookie/strip joint owner to try to get back the cash.
ZigZag is a cute drama that delivers some genuinely sweet and funny moments in between the interesting and more serious plotline. Goyer impresses both in the direction and the writing, and the cast is well-suited to their respective roles. Although the film is ultimately too slight and difficult to buy in some respects, it's still interesting to watch and you care enough for the title character to have genuine interest in his fate. Hopefully this opens the door for Goyer, as he has spent most of his career as a Hollywood hack. ZigZag is mildly recommended for people who enjoy offbeat and thoughtful dramas with smart writing.
©2002 Vince Leo