For some, Valentine’s Day is a day to bestow pink or red roses, chocolates or truffles, floral, citrus or musk fragrances, or maybe even Vickie’s Secret to their sweethearts. For others, it’s a stinging reminder that they need to make that move and exit, stage left, out of their current relationships. So it’s with the latter folks in mind, and those like myself who enjoy romantic (or well um, unromantic) comedies, that I recommend going to see Exit Strategy, which opened last Friday (and is playing in the Philadelphia area at both AMC Franklin Mills and AMC Loews Cherry Hill theaters). As the title suggests, the story is about a guy named James (Jameel Saleem) looking for a way out of his relationship after moving in with his girlfriend of three months Kim (portrayed by Kimelia Weathers) and quickly learning she is not the type of woman he thought nor wants. But there is one problem, well actually three… he was evicted from his place, has no money, and has no other place to stay.
Saleem developed the screenplay from a web series, of the same name, in which both he and Weathers co-starred. A native of the Germantown section of Philadelphia, he passed the script on to friend, fellow Philadelphian, and local radio personality for Hot 107.9, Quincy “QDeezy” Harris. Harris, in turn, recruited his (then) boss nationally syndicated radio personality Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander, who went on to serve as executive producer of the film. Harris, who also serves as producer, plays James’ best friend Carvelle, one of several characters in the movie that attempt to help James come up with a plan to break up with Kim and still remain “on her couch.” Side note: Kimelia Weathers played the psychotic girlfriend role so well, I mean her character put the coo coo in cocoa puffs! But seriously, the chemistry between the two lead actors and the lack thereof between their respective characters made for some great laughs. If you’ve ever been in a bad relationship and viewed this film I’m sure you’d be able to relate to James misery .
I took the opportunity to speak with Jameel after the première and his excitement at having his first feature film screened local with friends and family present was heartfelt. When I inquired how he felt about the positive energy received during the screening, he humbly expressed that he was still taking it all in and was sure he would do more so as the days passed.
The passion to get this project made despite a budget of under $100,000 is evident by all the major supporters who added their gifts, including director Michael Whitton and the cast (whom I’m told wore multiple hats to keep production on point). And then there’s North Philly native, comedian Kevin Hart, who cameos and gives a serious ROTFL performance that he actually did with 20 minutes to shoot and in two takes (I mean the man is just comedy). The result is a high quality production, that was blessed further by becoming part of the AMC Theaters focus on independent film and being released in select theaters this February.
At a time when it is still hard to get a big budget film, romantic or otherwise, with African-American leads greenlit and distributed, Exit Strategy has defied the odds. What’s needed at this point is your support. We, the moviegoers, dictate what types of movies get made with our ticket sales. If you are not in the Philadelphia area, check out www.fandango.com to find theater locations for Exit Strategy near you. You can also find out more about the film at www.exitstrategy-themovie.com.
Leave me a comment after you check out and support independent film!
Until next thought family, Thomasena