It’s 1984 in a tiny coastal village in New Zealand, an 11-year-old Maori boy, known as “Boy,” finds himself looking after his little brother and cousins while his grandmother is out of town for a funeral.
To everyone’s surprise, Boy’s estranged father returns from prison with his gang, the Crazy Horses, in tow. Although Boy’s father seems to be completely inept at everything but partying, he doesn’t really mean anyone harm.
Boy, who has built up his dad to be the legend he wants him to be, will come to realize the sad truth that all boys, even all children must face: Your parents are not infallible, growing up is less fun than you think it’s going to be, and each of us is responsible for our own successes and failures.
We say, “It’s funny and it’s sad, just like life.”
TAYLOR: You have only one day to see this film at the Vernon Towne Cinema, Monday, at either 5:15 or 7:45 p.m. It is a presentation of the Vernon Film Society. I recommend you go, if you are a fan of heartfelt and effective movies. Plus, when have you ever seen a movie from New Zealand?
HOWE: I can’t remember if I ever have. It is a fine movie, yet, it isn’t a great movie. It entertained me, but that’s about it. It felt along the lines of Napoleon Dynamite and to me that is a far better movie than Boy.
TAYLOR: It had a quirkiness to it that was reminiscent of Napoleon Dynamite, but it also had a more realistic approach to its storytelling. There was no depth to Dynamite, which was the quintessential MTV generation indie film. Boy has a subtext that can be related to by way of remembering your own childhood, whereas, to relate to Dynamite you must fit into a particular niche or clique. Also, Dynamite is a strict comedy, whereas, Boy is less about laughs and more about the bittersweet nature of growing up.
HOWE: The acting was pretty good by most of the cast, even the idiots from the Crazy Horse gang, but their whining voices started to annoy me. I thought James Rolleston who played Boy did a very good acting job. His eyes sparkled nearly as much as the sparklers he played with when he interacted with his father (Taika Waititi), as do most boys when they adore their parents.
TAYLOR: I enjoyed Waititi’s previous film, Eagle vs. Shark, which you can find on DVD or Netflix, but I can see why Boy has become the biggest grossing film from New Zealand ever. It’s a cross-cultural, cross-generational nostalgic look back at an appreciable time and it’s unique enough to offer you something you’ve not seen before.
Boy is lighthearted yet realistic, sad but with the promise of hope, and cute yet dirty. (Don’t take your 12 year old to it unless he or she can handle swearing, sexual references and drug use.)
–– Howe gives Boy 2.5 moonwalks out of 5.
–– Taylor gives it 3.5 plants hidden in cornrows out of 5.
–– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie critics living in Vernon, B.C.