May. 02, 2012 - Issue #863: Cold Specks
For its three-letter brevity, Boy is actually quite an apt title for director Taika Waititi's 2010 New Zealand comedy, in being simple and straight to the point: the mostly male principal cast here all seemed trapped in a state of perpetual adolescence, regardless of their actual ages.
It's set in rural NZ in 1984, when Michael Jackson rules the charts with Thriller and Spielberg commands the cinemas with ET, but most people around these parts are only aware of the former. The titular Boy (James Rolleston), all of 11 years old and, as oldest, in charge of his household of siblings while grandma's away, finds himself with a male figure to emulate when his dad shows up, fresh from prison, two-man gang in tow (Ma passed away giving birth to one of Boy's siblings). But Dad's only here to find something he buried in a field, though he can't quite remember where, and as he searches his idea of quality time with his kids is puffing on some reefer, asking them to call him "Shogun" and telling aggrandizing stories about himself. Which, of course, Boy buys into wholesale.
It all plays out as a good natured comedy about growing up, with some lightly touched-upon tones of loss and family to deepen the sincerity. Waititi lets childlike imagination colour in his story—some moments of childlike imagination are shown as crayon on looseleaf animations, while others appear as costume-driven stagings, usually followed immediately by the less ideal reality. At one point a hickey gets delivered by a vacuum cleaner.
Everyone on-screen has some growing up to do, and some manage to do more than others. But Boy frames those journeys with such simple charm that it warrants more than a couple smiles.
Fri, May 4 – Thu, May 10
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
Directed by: Taika Waititi
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