Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run Time: 1 hour 27 minutes, Not Rated
Starring: James Rolleston, Taika Waititi, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu
Written & Directed by Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark, HBO's The Flight of the Conchords)
Boy is a quirky film that is at times very funny and yet also works as a deeply moving drama. Boy, as he is called, is an 11-year old New Zealander living mostly in a fantasy world all his own. Taika Waititi stars as Boy's dad, and he also wrote and directed the film. Being a writing/directing alum of the massively popular The Flight of the Conchords HBO series, he is no stranger to absurd yet intelligent comedy, and Boy accurately encapsulates the comedic spirit and tone of this cult series.
Boy is played by James Rolleston, one of the cutest little kids you'll ever see. The year is 1984 and the influence of Western pop culture on New Zealand youth is pretty evident. Boy's younger brother is named Rocky, and they have friends that are named Dynasty, Dallas and even Falcon Crest. Boy's hero is Michael Jackson, and Rocky seems to possess a Force-like magical ability like he was a young Jedi. To impress a girl, Boy tries to show her some Michael Jackson dance moves. Rocky tries to use his powers to make a bum slip and fall.
Boy idolizes his father and has created a heroic version of him in his head. As the story unfolds, we see that Boy is also the caretaker not only of his brother Rocky, but several of his cousins all living under the same roof. His grandma has left for some time and has forced Boy to step into this role. As he idolizes and dreams about his awesome dad, Rocky is seen visiting the cemetery plot where their mother resides. It all paints an underlying picture of sadness that never lingers, as these boys are full of hope.
That's when dad actually shows up. He wasn't really off on adventure, he was away in jail serving a sentence for robbery. He enters Boy's life along with two hoodlum sidekicks he's presumably befriended in the can. Dad hasn't really come back for boy, rather, for a bag of money that he buried in the field moments before his incarceration.
After the appearance of his dad, the movie becomes a heartfelt father-son story. Taika Waititi plays the father as a knowing buffoon, but somehow instills him with a twinge of love and affection for his children, making him a dead-beat dad that we are still rooting for.
As the film progresses, we see Boy's sadness under all of his fantastic projections. He wants to believe in his father even though he knows that his dad will probably leave him high and dry. The result gives depth to the bizarre and awkward comedic tone of the film.
I hesitate to use the word "touching" when describing a film about a boy and his relationship with Michael Jackson. But Boy is a touching and richly entertaining film that you should seek out, as it will be in limited release locally.
You'll be glad you did.
Opens locally on Friday, April 27th, 2012
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