New Jersey Drive
|New Jersey Drive|
Theatrical Release Poster
|Directed by||Nick Gomez|
|Produced by||Larry Meistrich
Spike Lee (executive)
|Written by||Nick Gomez
|Edited by||Tracy Granger|
|Distributed by||Gramercy Pictures|
New Jersey Drive is a 1995 film about joy riding working class teenagers in 1990s Newark, New Jersey, the former "car theft capital of the world". Their favorite pastime is that of everybody in their neighborhood: stealing cars and joyriding. The trouble starts when they steal a police car and the cops launch a violent offensive that involves beating and even shooting suspects. The film stars Sharron Corley, Gabriel Casseus, and Saul Stein.
The film was directed and written by Nick Gomez; produced by Larry Meistrich and Bob Gosse; executive production was credited to filmmaker Spike Lee. At the time, the city of Newark had the highest automobile theft rate in the country, and ex-city mayor Sharpe James refused to allow filming of New Jersey Drive within the city limits; therefore, the filming locations were in the surrounding locations of Newark rather than the city itself. Most of New Jersey Drive was also filmed in several New Jersey and New York locations, including East Orange, Elizabeth and Paterson; Brooklyn, Queens, Yonkers and Harlem.
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New Jersey Drive opens with Jason (Sharron Corley) heading off to juvenile detention then unfolds in flashback as, chronologically, the incidents leading to his arrest surface one by one. First the audience sees the violent and poverty-ridden Housing projects project where he and his family live; next his go-nowhere delinquent friends are introduced, as is their hobby: joy riding. Soon some of the teens, including Jason, begin to convert their hobby into a part-time job as they steal cars and sell them to a sleazy chop-shop owner for pennies on the dollar. Eventually they are caught in a police sting and one boy, Ronnie Lambs Ron Q, is shot by the crooked Officer Emil Roscoe (Saul Stein) and other police officers. They begin to run for cover and they end up at Ronnie's house whose relatives take him to the hospital. Jason informs his friends that the police ambushed them but he refuses to come forward and report the crime.
The next day, Jason, along with Midget and Tiny are riding in a stolen car when Officer Roscoe spots them and a police chase ensues. The crew manage to get away and go to the block when they are confronted by Midget's brothers and their friend, Bo-Kane (played by rapper Heavy D) for riding fast on their street. Later on that night, while outside a Chinese restaurant, Tiny Dime attempts to break away from the police in a stolen car, but his car is hit by one of the officers and he is killed instantly from the impact.
One night while walking home, Jason is pulled over by the police. While he is being held in the back of a police car, he is approached by Officer Roscoe. Roscoe warns Jason not to tell a soul and he punches Jason in the eye as a warning to stay away from grand juries. Jason's mother tries to steer him away from a life of crime but he continues to hang out with his friends from the neighborhood who are involved in the street life. After becoming fed up with his mother and her boyfriend's home rules, Jason leaves their house and moves into Midget's apartment in the projects. Later on, Jason, Midget and their friend, Richie, decide to steal a police car parked in the neighborhood and joyride. They see a truck full of white men and decide to pretend that they are the police, and pull them over as a prank. The next day, Jason & Midget, along with another group of friends, Jamal & Peanut, are arrested for boosting the police car. While Jason is waiting to get processed, Officer Roscoe decides to put him in a room, where he beats him up & tell him not to talk to any jurors.
One day, Jason and his friends are relaxing on the strip and a car drives past. Jason's sister, Jackie, and a friend of hers are in the back seat of a stolen vehicle. Jason pulls her out of the vehicle and sends her home. Officer Roscoe drives down the street, greets the guys, and calls for backup. Midget says a few words, then throws a 40-ounce bottle at the windshield of Officer Roscoe's vehicle. As the boys run their separate ways, Jason and Midget are approached by two cops, one being a female police officer. She questions them, since they are minors drinking alcohol, and fit the description of the suspects they were looking for. Midget insults the female officer for calling for backup, while Jason pours out the liquor bottle. She rips the bag Midget was carrying, and the boys take off running, with police in pursuit. The police lose Jason, but catch up to Midget. They corner him near the back of an apartment building, and take turns beating him. Some time later, Midget awakens from the beating, grabs his 40-ounce of malt liquor, and Jason catches up with him. Midget gets hold of a gun, and he points it a police squad car from the roof top of a housing project building. Midget immediately fires three shots, and the crew flees the scene. Later that day, after visiting a crooked chop shop owner, Midget robs a man of his Lexus in a grocery store parking lot. Jason, who is in the previous vehicle, was unaware of Midget's actions, and they both speed away in their separate vehicles. Jason later confronts Midget for not telling him about his actions, while Midget is seen feeding his elderly grandmother.
Meanwhile, Roscoe is looking at a video camera, which caught Jason at the scene of the robbery at the grocery store, which now makes him a suspect. Next, Jackie is seen hanging out in the parking lot in the housing projects with a crowd of Jason's peers, who are car thieves. Jason confronts Jackie once again & Richie tries to intervene. Jason tells Richie to stay out of it, but a friend of Richie's instigates the argument to the point where Richie hits Jason in the face. Jason responds by beating Richie up in front of everybody until a group of guys including Midget break up the fight. After that, the police go to Jason's mother's home in search of him, but she informs the police that he is not home. Jason's mother drives around in search of Jason. When she finds him, she tells Jason that the police are on the hunt for him. Jason & Midget return to Midget's home, only to find that the police are waiting in the hallway. Jason runs, while Midget stays put. As Jason is walking down the street, Richie pulls up in a vehicle. As he calls for Jason, Jason ignores him. Richie pulls out a gun, and chases after Jason, firing shots at him while in pursuit. Jason was able to get away unharmed. Later, he is taunted by his friends for almost getting murdered on the street by Richie. Jason scolds his friends for trivializing the situation, which could have been resulted in his death at the hands of Richie. The crew drive around the city until night time.
As they ponder upon a red SUV, Midget and Peanut try to steal the vehicle, while Jason watches. It appears that their carjacking attempt is taking too long, as the car alarm goes off. Suddenly, the car alarm stops, & the police immediately surround them. Jason is arrested, Midget successfully gets away, & Peanut tries to drive away from the police with the red SUV in reverse. The police shoot at the car, killing Peanut, later describing the shooting as self-defence by claiming that the carjacker tried to overrun a policeman. Jason finally realizes that his luck has run out on him as Officer Roscoe arrives & advises Jason that he was caught on video tape committing the crime (alluding to the carjacking at the grocery store with Midget earlier). The neighborhood residents are later seen outraged, protesting the police for shooting a teenage carjacker, as the emergency medics try to revive him. The scene returns to the present, with Jason doing time at a juvenile hall. While washing clothes, he gets into an argument with another inmate who has a vendetta against his friend, Midget. As Jason is sitting watching the news, it is revealed that the officers involved in the shootings of Ronnie Lambs & Peanut have been suspended from active duty, with Officer Roscoe being brought up on criminal charges.
Jason is released from jail, & receives a ride from his female friend. She takes him to his old stomping grounds on Avon St., and he sees Midget with his friends. Apparently, Midget nor any other of his friends came to visit Jason while he was in jail. Midget and Jason have a long talk, & it appears that the neighborhood is changing for the worse. and that Midget suggests that Jason figure out what he wants to do with his life. Later that evening, Jason and his female friend begin to have a talk while sitting in her mother's car. Suddenly, they are carjacked at gun-point by the men who had an argument with Jason when he was incarcerated. Midget and his crew arrive on the scene to try to figure out what happened, but Jason has grown tired of the street life. Midget and Jason get into an argument, and Midget informs Jason that this is how life on the streets is. Midget and his friends get inside of a van & drive off. The next scene shows Midget's van flipped over, & on the news. Later, a police dispatcher performs a voice-over during events in which it is revealed that Midget and a pregnant woman who were joyriding in a stolen van are killed in an accident during a police chase, while the others were injured. Jason sees this on the news while eating cereal. The next scene shows Jason walking down the street with a bookbag on his way to school, while a group of kids drive past him joyriding. He looks at a mural dedicated to the memory of Midget & Tiny Dime, & a flashback goes to the beginning of the film, with the friends all hanging out together. The final scene features Jason sitting in a classroom, earning his education, and reflecting on the past.
- Sharron Corley as Jason Petty
- Gabriel Casseus as Midget
- Saul Stein as Emil Roscoe
- Donald Faison as Tiny Dime
- Heavy D as Bo-Kane
- Roscoe Orman as Judge
- Michael Pincus as Emil Roscoe's Cousin - Curly
- Christine Baranski as Prosecutor
- Paul Schulze as Booking Sergeant
- Arthur Nascarella as Mr. Chop Shop
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|1995||New Jersey Drive, Vol. 1
|1995||New Jersey Drive, Vol. 2