An absolutely diabolical film with a lack of authenticity and a real time-period crisis; seemingly set in 1982 at some points, but nothing, from the soundtrack to the wardrobe, would indicate this. Other than ET being referenced multiple times, everything else points to this being set in the 1990s; a rather advanced LCD equipped camcorder, and the radio host announcing "Music from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s" as the family travel by car to NY. Lacking in any kind of social realism, "poverty" never seems to be any real threat or hardship, next month's rent money can be gambled away trying to win a stuffed ET without any real consequence or subsequent peril. The message seems to be that black people aren't as scary as you'd think, but they do of course practice voodoo magic, and society's underclass are just a host of colourful characters; sometimes they are, and I think it's supposed to be surprising, actually good people at heart (I know right, the poor can't possibly be kind or trustworthy..). Sometimes of course, the poor are just out to get you as you'd expect. Terribly clichéd characters, laughable dialogue that ruins any potential "moments" the film may have had and a universe that seems to bend its own rules whenever it sees fit to suit its agenda. Characters behave inconsistently, with pretty much every one of them having a surprisingly bat-shit crazy breakdown and/or reconciliation that comes out of absolutely nowhere at some point in the film. Goes for whimsy over realism in its portrayal of poverty, and tear-jerker tropes in lieu of making you actually feel for any of the characters. No matter how mundane it might have been at points, I'm sure the real story it's based on is very moving, and would have been much more engaging without the added mysticism and magic. "You know, poverty's like, so bad, one time our Hallowe'en costumes.. were.. like... talked about in hushed tones..." is pretty much as threatening as poverty ever gets in this completely misguided film. The film critic who mentioned Capra in the same sentence as this steaming turd of a film really needs to resign immediately.