Movie Reviews

Stockton on my Mind Review: An Interesting Primer

Stockton on my Mind is just a primer on a millennial mayor whose life is the stuff of Oscar-bait movies, but its well-crafted enough to make you yearn for a sequel.

While the rest of the world scratched their heads at the 2016 US election, a young black man became the mayor of the poorest, most violent, and least literate city in the country. This contrast is overshadowed by an orange toddler sitting at the 45th seat of the presidency in America, but it only takes a matter of time for a good story to appear in a film.

Micheal Tubbs’ background is Oscar bait material – a kid raised by a teen mom and grows up with an incarcerated father becomes the youngest mayor of his hometown. In between you have classic moments that can fill a trailer – sagging his pants while getting A’s, a scholarship in an Ivy League university attended by a future benefactor and founder of Snapchat, receiving a ten-grand campaign donation from Oprah, becoming the youngest council member at the age of 22, and getting endorsed by Obama less than a week before the 2016 election for the Mayor of Stockton. He wins the position at the age of 26.

The film follows the beginnings of his term as he introduces three programs that are the stuff of a republican’s nightmare – the universal basic income, a city-wide scholarship program with little barrier to entry (Stockton Scholars), and a violence prevention program that provides a cash stipend to participants (Advance Peace).

The script deftly weaves these three plotlines with Tubb’s personal journey and whose struggles before becoming mayor still pervade the city. At one point, he visits a mentorship workshop by Raymond Aguilar, the former cellmate of his father in prison who becomes a liaison to Advance Peace. The documentary introduces a few people who got involved with or will benefit from his initiatives. Tubbs has an interesting story that’s too good to be true but lucky for Stockton it is, as he both stands as a reflection of the city’s problems and potential.

While the documentary mentions criticisms that his inclusive programs face it doesn’t dig any deeper. You don’t see the perspective of the town’s residents except when it serves the story. The doc addresses the chaotic council meeting with riot police, but this kind of nuance isn’t explored as if there is no political fissure inside Stockton. The doc conveniently highlights a group of ignoramuses who failed a petition for recall instead. It seems everyone is simply waiting inside their homes for whatever Tubbs’ is coming up with next.

The documentary was shot before any of his programs bear fruit so you don’t see any significant outcomes that prove its impact on Stockton. There are plenty more of sit-ins and human-interest stories to highlight the promise of these programs that you can’t blame a person in the audience for seeing it as a PR coverage.

As a result, you get a pedestrian documentary about a politician who is actually in touch with the reality of his constituents. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that Tubbs is a formidable politician to watch out for. If there is one thing that should be learned from this documentary, is that the government needs bold young blood to inject innovation into a system that doesn’t serve the best interest of the people who needs it the most. It’s interesting to see the result of Tubbs’ programs and in this rare case, Stockton on my Mind deserves a sequel.

Stockton on my Mind

7

Stockton on my Mind is just a primer on a millennial mayor whose life is the stuff of Oscar-bait movies, but its well-crafted enough to make you yearn for a sequel.

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