According to the plan hatched by his mom’s deadbeat, abusive boyfriend, Byrd (Andre Royo of “The Wire”), Little League player Josh (Luca Oriel) will go pro and sign a million-dollar contract when he grows up.
As indicated by the title “Calloused Hands,” Byrd pushes Josh to his limit while taking it easy himself, unwinding with alcohol and drugs after unsuccessfully peddling a water-filtration system door to door.
Breadwinning mother Debbie (Daisy Haggard) picks up extra shifts at her waitressing job yet can’t make ends meet. Upon receipt of a water-shutoff notice, she turns to her estranged wealthy dad (Hans Howes) as a last resort. He’ll loan her $10,000 under one condition: that Josh have a bar mitzvah. Under the guidance of Rabbi Brookstein (Sean McConaghy), Josh indeed comes of age and stands up against Byrd.
With a chip on his shoulder, Byrd often lashes out at Debbie for being born with a silver spoon. Debbie, on the other hand, seems to have acquired a taste for heartless men like her father. It’s a match made in co-dependent hell, yet their psychological profiles feel somewhat incomplete here. Filmmaker Jesse Quinones challenges certain racial and ethnic stereotypes while reinforcing others. When the script falls short, though, Royo and Haggard act up a storm.
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hours, 37 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena.