Speechless – The H-U-S-Hustle
By: Taylor Gates
Ray (Mason Cook) gives a speech, running for Astronomy Club president. Although there is only one person in the club besides the kid he is running against, Ray loses. His afternoon goes from bad to worse when he hears Maya (Minnie Driver) and Jimmy (John Ross Bowie) singing about the annual DiMeo road trip outside the classroom window.
They’re about to leave when Dr. Miller (Marin Hinkle) reminds them that they committed to attending the school’s 70s themed fundraiser. Although Jimmy doesn’t want to attend, Maya convinces him to do a quick walk through. Maya quickly strikes up a friendship with Sarah (Lennon Parham), a faintly rude woman desperately seeking alcohol. Jimmy, however, has a harder time being social. He goes over to talk to Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough), who is acting as the DJ, for a few minutes before begging Maya to leave. Maya, however, convinces him to stay just a little bit longer so she can hang out with her new friend.
Maya and Jimmy raid the school’s costume closet for some 70s inspired costumes. After, Maya immediately ditches him for Sarah. Their relationship quickly turns sour when Sarah complains her son’s fencing team was cancelled because of budget cuts while the handicap elevator is being upgraded. Kenneth is also having a bad time, finding out there are no single ladies in attendance at the fundraiser. Jimmy, on the other hand, has a newfound sense of confidence and intelligence because of the added height his platform shoes give him—he’s determined never to take them off. He tells Maya to give Sarah hell for the rude comment she made about kids with disabilities.
Maya joins Sarah and her friends, who are doing the hustle. She tries to bait them, saying she’s completely on their side and doesn’t think their kids should have to suffer because of a small minority. In fact, she wouldn’t be surprised if most of the kids with so-called disabilities were faking it. Sarah tells Maya they’re going to make sure the elevator doesn’t get upgraded that night, but Dr. Miller calls attention to Maya’s excellent dancing before she can hear their plan.
Maya lures and traps Sarah in the elevator, revealing that her child is one of the disabled kids. She threatens Sarah, saying if she doesn’t put a stop to whatever plan her friends have up their sleeve, she’ll devote all her time and energy to making her life hell. Unfortunately, the elevator jams and the two get stuck in there together.
After some more bickering, Sarah admits that she doesn’t want to take anything away from Maya’s kid. She just wants to do what is best for her son. He is very lonely and fencing is the only thing that makes him happy. Maya understands but explains that she’s hurting her kid in the process. She has an epiphany—other people love their kids as much as she loves JJ. The two realize they’re actually similar and agree to like each other again. Jimmy shows up to rescue them and is forced to take his shoes off to climb the ladder to retrieve them. On his way down, all the friends he made who were so impressed with his height are disappointed and abandon him. Maya reassures Jimmy he’s still a hero.
At the end of the auction, Maya makes a speech about what she’s learned from her experience. She then auctions off her services fighting for any cause. Each argument costs $100 and will benefit the fencing team. The crowd is moved and the money starts pouring in. Jimmy also confronts his old friend group, saying it was never intention to deceive them. His honestly inspires them to share their own insecurities. They thank him for changing their lives, assuring him he’ll always be tall to them.
Maya shares the list of parent demands with Dr. Miller and thanks her for all her work making Lafayette High a home for them. Dr. Miller regrettably has to ruin the moment by saying that, after talking to JJ’s teachers, it doesn’t look like JJ will be graduating that year.
While the adults attend the party, the kids hang out in the car. Jimmy gives them some money to keep themselves occupied for a few hours. A security guard informs them their van is parked in a loading zone and they will be towed if they don’t move it. Dylan (Kyla Kenedy) and JJ (Micah Fowler) pressure Ray to drive it himself instead of going to get Maya.
Ray finally caves and moves the car but has to continue driving because he can’t find any parking spaces nearby. Being in the driver’s seat gives him a sense of power, and he tells off a cool kid when he insults Ray’s slow driving. JJ and Dylan are impressed by the new rebellious Ray. Instead of going back towards the school, they decide to crush some of the things in the trunk with the van including a watermelon and a cake.
After they’ve finished demolishing things, Dylan wants to head back to school. Ray, however, isn’t quite finished yet. He tells Dylan and JJ to call him Blaze and finds the car of the guy who taunted him earlier, wanting to mess with it and get revenge. Dylan takes over the role of responsible sibling because Ray no longer wants it.
Ray gets a carton of eggs, and Dylan begs him not to throw them at the car. Ray ignores her, tossing the entire carton. Unfortunately, his aim is still terrible and he misses the car by a mile every time. One of his eggs ends up hitting and busting a restaurant sign. Ray offers the storeowner his telescope to pay for it, and he agrees, telling them not to come back around his pizza shop again. Ray thanks Dylan for being responsible, and Dylan hits the bully’s car with the final egg before urging Ray to make a quick getaway. They manage to get back to the school safely, and JJ blackmails Ray into giving him the $20 Jimmy gave him in exchange for not telling them Ray drove the car.