MPAA Rating: R
Director: Taika Waititi
Film Pulse Score: 9/10
Boy is a pitch perfect film that has something for everyone. The seamless juxtaposition between joy and sadness, comedy and drama, and hope and shame bring a truly unique and wonderful experience to the screen. Both light-hearted, and deeply emotional, this is a film that simply needs to be seen.
The year is 1984, and 11-year-old Boy takes us on an adventure through his life in the small New Zealand town he resides. He loves Michael Jackson, but he really takes pride in his father, who has been in jail for most of his life. Boy has a little brother, Rocky, who thinks he has telekinesis, and seems to have an introverted intelligence beyond his years. When the two boys’ father comes home, the three attempt to rekindle their relationship, but does their father have ulterior motives?
The film was written and directed by Taika Waititi, who also plays the father, Alamein. Waititi has previously written and directed another quite good film titled Eagle vs. Shark, but he is most widely known for directing the HBO show Flight of the Concords. Like those works, Boy has a very similar visual style, incorporating cutaways and animation into the beautiful New Zealand countryside.
The concept of Boy is not something we haven’t seen before. We see the world through the eyes of Boy, and watch as he comes to terms with his mother, who passed away while giving birth to his brother, his father, who has been an absentee parent for most of his life, and the drama of becoming an adolescent. What we haven’t seen before, is this type of film told in such a creative and engaging way. With it’s quirky humor, and colorful cast of characters, Boy certainly stands apart from the crowd. Although considered a comedy, it goes to some dark places, but keeps it’s charming aura around at all times.
Although the film takes place in the 80’s, we are not under a constant barrage of 80’s pop culture references, which is refreshing. Every few scenes, we are reminded that it is 1984, usually through the soundtrack or a movie reference, but it never feels forced or out of place. Too often, movies use their decade as a crutch to make up for bad storytelling.
There seems to be a trend in more ‘charming’ movies coming out this year, and Boy is a shining example. It gets everything right, and is a brilliant piece of cinema. The great camerawork, fully developed characters, and excellent dialogue take the average plot and blast it through the atmosphere. Since Boy was released in New Zealand in 2010, I don’t know if it will be considered during awards season this year, but it absolutely should be, and will most certainly be on some top ten lists this year.