“Making Hooky” is really two films in one. The first half is about the process of making “Hooky,” director Rich E. Allen’s movie that was made possible by a film grant he received. At first, Allen has no idea what story he wants to tell, but finally comes up with the idea of filming two boys (Fernando Madrid and Orlando Vasquez) as they play hooky and hop the subway to anywhere. After some serious mayhem in his building that results in people walking all over his movie (long story), Allen decides that his film will never be seen. That’s where the second part of the movie comes in.
The second part is the movie Allen vowed would never be seen (though in all honesty, I don’t know how much of the “making of” segment was real and how much was creative storytelling to lead up to this moment). It involves the boys hopping the subway out to Battery Park and stealing the gun of a police officer (Lazaro Perez). The cop then goes looking for his weapon. That’s it. A fun, silent story told in black and white.
Allen is either a genius or just plain lucky. I suspect he’s got a bit of both in him. The film he’s made isn’t nearly as interesting as the creation of it, but it is entertaining in its own harmless way. What he has done with it, however, is let us into his world, much like comic book writer Harvey Pekar, and it’s easy to see how this film could be born out of that place. It is innocent, but with bit of teeth that hint at a danger that could erupt at any minute. That’s New York for you, though, and it’s Allen’s film, too. It’ll make you want to see his next project and make you wonder why more filmmakers can’t do stories this simple and engaging.
That was one well-deserved grant.