The Gutta Boyz
Mar 16, 2023
Terry Bush, Dre Hampton, John Gray, Ken Lathan
The Gutta Boyz is a modern hood drama that starts by looking at the knock-on effect caused by the legalisation of weed. On a conceptual level, it’s very interesting. No matter which side of the legalisation debate you find yourself on, this is telling a story that doesn’t get much airtime - the plight of the humble drug dealer now that every convenience store and multinational grocery chain is a competitor for an already small pool of customers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite keep up the momentum that its premise creates, and it does just blend into any other crime story rather than doing anything uniquely meaningful.
Visually it appears to come from a decent budget at first glance, but there are quite a few telltale signs of inexperience. It’s edited in a way that caters towards the mechanics of a scene rather than the story that the scene is trying to tell. For example, when a character is buzzed into another’s apartment building we get a quick cut back to the intercom system every time a button is pushed. It just isn’t necessary - it isn’t too much to ask us to infer that all the steps needed to facilitate one character entering another’s home were taken without being shown them.
There’s also a weird effect that persists throughout where the audio track doesn’t quite match up with the visuals. There were even points where it felt as if it could be a dubbed version of an originally foreign-language short film, but it isn’t. In any case, it would appear that the sound was recorded and then added in post-production which is an interesting choice, even if it isn’t fully pulled off. It does give it a nostalgic feel of 80s Hong Kong action, back when every film was dubbed with different voice actors to the actors who were in front of the camera. Whether that’s intentional or not is unconfirmed.
The film’s biggest weakness is in its dialogue, another aspect of The Gutta Boyz that seems to come from a place of inexperience. There’s perhaps an overreliance on a script that reads as if it’s a first draft. The conversations aren’t natural, and there’s a tendency for characters to vocalise things that just don’t need to be said. It isn’t quite on the level of The Room but it’s a similar kind of feeling that lines just jump from nowhere and that everyone’s taking their turn whether a conversation would happen in its written order or not.
The Gutta Boyz certainly leaves a lot of room for improvement, but it does genuinely feel like the start of something that could be refined and honed into something meaningful with the right guidance.