From the director of the quirky but flawed Eagle Vs. Shark comes another quirky but flawed drama-comedy called Boy, about a boy named Boy who is excited to see that his absent father has returned - and then less excited when he realizes his dad is an incompetent hoodlum.
Boy (played by James Rolleston) is an 11-year old kid in New Zealand in 1984, who loves Michael Jackson and longs for the day that his heroic dad will return to whisk him away. When his father Alamein (played by director Taika Waititi) returns to search for a bag of money he buried long ago, Boy quickly tries to follow in his footsteps, though it eventually dawns on him that his dad is a complete loser.
James Rolleston delivers a lively and engaging performance as the title character, whose enthusiasm for the role permeates through the film. Unfortunately, the jolt he provides doesn't kick start the rest of the story, which ranges from periodically entertaining to forgetfully pointless.
Boy is one of those movies that isn't by definition bad - it has good acting and an okay premise - but that is so quaint in scope that it exudes shrug-worthiness even before the opening credits roll onto the screen. Very little happens in the movie and the character arcs of the leads are so subdued that Boy fails to offer much for its audience to latch onto.
Alamein could have been a compelling character. Waititi adds a lot of color to the role that he also wrote, but not a lot of flesh. Alamein doesn't grow or evolve in any real way, in turn making the story in Boy seem like a flash in a pan rather than a fully realized, momentous arc worth putting to film.
Even with its quaint foundation, Boy could have worked had Waititi embraced the energy of the film's first 15 minutes. The kid's excitement and enthusiasm toward Michael Jackson makes for some funny moments and strong narrative, but Waititi then lets the film calm down to nothing of importance.
Boy has its moments, but is such an insignificant piece of film that it is immediately forgotten. I watched the movie a week ago and already don't recall how it ends, let alone why I should even bother remembering.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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