Gridlock'd is a 1997 American black comedy crime film written and directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall and starring Tupac Shakur, Tim Roth, Lucy Liu, and Thandiwe Newton. It was the directorial debut of Curtis-Hall, who also has a small role in the film. The film's opening was relatively low, despite critical acclaim; its opening weekend netted only $2,678,372 and it finished with a little over $5.5 million.[1]

Theatrical release poster
Directed byVondie Curtis-Hall
Written byVondie Curtis-Hall
Produced by
CinematographyBill Pope
Edited byChristopher Koefoed
Music byStewart Copeland
Distributed byGramercy Pictures
Release date
  • January 29, 1997 (1997-01-29)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million
Box office$5.6 million

The film paid tribute to star Tupac Shakur, who was murdered four months prior to the film's release.


Set in Detroit, Gridlock'd centers around heroin addicts Spoon (Tupac Shakur), Stretch (Tim Roth) and Cookie (Thandiwe Newton). They are in a band – in the spoken word genre – called Eight Mile Road, with Cookie on vocals, Spoon on bass guitar (plus secondary vocals) and Stretch on piano. Spoon and Stretch decide to kick their habit after Cookie overdoses on her first hit. Throughout a disastrous day, the two addicts dodge police and local criminals while struggling with an apathetic government bureaucracy that thwarts their entrance to a rehabilitation program.


It's largely autobiographical, with a lot of it coming from the time when I was a teenager in Detroit, playing guitar and singing in bands. Everybody was doing drugs. That was the way we thought we could play faster guitar, write better songs ... One day my best friend, the bassist, and I were sitting around and decided that maybe we could actually play better if we weren't stoned all the time. Next day, we went to try and get into rehab. We were doing a bit of everything and were both sixteen, living with our folks, so we couldn't give our address in case they got to know about what we were doing. So we ended up wandering around from place to place, no one giving us any help. I remembered that when it came to writing my first movie.

— Vondie Curtis-Hall[2]


It wasn't that easy because it was about smack, which is a bit of a taboo subject here. And people were expecting it to be a real depressing movie about a couple of dope fiends ... Then PolyGram had just put Trainspotting out and were like, 'We can't do two movies about heroin.' I didn't know anything about Trainspotting. It didn't mean shit to me ... It's like saying you can't do two romantic comedies. Then Tupac's record company came up with the money and PolyGram turned around and said, 'Hey, we always liked this movie' (laughs).

That's the way it usually goes in Hollywood. Tim was doing Rob Roy in Scotland when I sent him the script. He read it on the plane back and got on board straight away. It was either him or Gary Oldman. It took about another six months to get Tupac because he'd just got out of jail and nobody wanted to touch him.

But there was this one company that really wanted to do the film with Tupac and, once they okayed it, things got a little easier. But he wasn't the first choice ... Larry Fishburne wanted to do it, but we couldn't afford him. I can't see anybody else in the movie now apart from Tupac. He and Tim are so perfect together.

— Vondie Curtis-Hall[2]



Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
1997 Gridlock'd 1


Critical receptionEdit

The New York Times editor Janet Maslin praised Shakur's performance: "He played this part with an appealing mix of presence, confidence and humor".[3] Desson Howe, for the Washington Post, wrote, "Shakur and Roth, who seem born for these roles, are allowed to take charge – and have fun doing it".[4] USA Today gave the film three out of four stars and felt that Hall had not "latched onto a particularly original notion of city blight. But he knows how to mine the humor in such desperation".[5] Similarly, Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times that Roth and Shakur "illuminate" a "movie of despar and desperation" with "gritty, goofy comic spirit". He gave the film three out of four stars and said, "This is grim material, but surprisingly entertaining, and it is more cause to mourn the recent death of Shakur, who gives his best performance".[6]

Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Gridlock'd doesn't have the imaginative vision of a movie like Trainspotting, yet it's more literally true to the haphazard torpor of the junkie life than anything we've seen on screen since Drugstore Cowboy ... Curtis-Hall has caught the bottom-feeder enervation of heroin addiction."[7]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 88%, based on thirty three reviews, with an average rating of 6.75/10.[8]

Box officeEdit

Gridlock'd debuted at #9 at the box office in the United States, with $2,678,372.[9] The film was released in the United Kingdom on May 30, 1997.[10]


  1. ^ "Gridlock'd". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Upton, Sam (July 1997). "Smack is a bit of a taboo subject over here". Select: 113.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (January 29, 1997). "And You Thought Recovery Was Serious Business". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  4. ^ Howe, Desson (January 31, 1997). "'Gridlock'd': Surprisingly Footloose". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  5. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (January 29, 1997). "Late Rapper and Roth Animate Gridlock'd". USA Today.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 31, 1997). "Gridlock'd". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 15, 2021 – via
  7. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (January 31, 1997). "Gridlock'd". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  8. ^ "Gridlock'd (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  9. ^ Puig, Claudia (February 3, 1997). "Pulling Far, Far Away From the Pack". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  10. ^ "30th May 1997 - 1st June 1997". Retrieved 3 August 2020.

External linksEdit