It was pretty much a week for the boys at the movies. Maybe it was a indirect response to The Hunger Games. And a direct response to . . . barf . . . Think Like a Man.
Boy is a charming coming of age tale of one New Zealand boy named…Boy (above right). He lives in a rustic country of old houses, wide open grassy fields and the oceans within walking distance, much like the country parts of Hawaii.
Boy’s only real interests in life are Michael Jackson and his father, who is serving jail time. A teacher, who knew Boy’s father in school, tells the youngster that he has “potential.” This is something Boy will spend the rest of the film trying to unlock, an ambition that becomes complicated when Boy’s deadbeat father, Alamein, is finally released from prison.
Alamein (above) is a pot-smoking, spastic, almost bipolar man in a state of arrested development. Suffice to say, he slowly doesn’t live up to Boy’s fantasies and Boy must figure out who (not what) he wants to be when he grows up. (Alamein modeling himself as a shogun after reading James Clavell’s novel should have been a dead giveaway.)
Taking place in 1984, Boy is quirky, funny, heartwarming, and it even gives off a sense of nostalgia, especially for Hawaii viewers—even if one has never been to New Zealand. There’s something similar about the lifestyles. Director Taika Waititi (who also plays Alamein) has created a fine dramedy, complete with a Bollywood-style dance number at the finish, done with a New Zealand touch. (For that matter, stay till the end of the credits for a little surprise.)
Speaking of boys, think of Bully as the gateway drug to the epidemic of bullying in schools across the nation. Instead of confronting the school administrators, we just simply get one sad story after another. They are all affecting but it feels more like a primer: “Hey, look! Bullying exists in our schools and our children are its victims!” Uh, anybody with a Twitter account figured that out years ago. Frankly, the beef with the MPAA over the foul language probably helped the film more than hindered it because the actual product is one long PSA for the website TheBullyProject.com.
The filmmakers tell heartbreaking stories but don’t really go after school administrators to see what they are planning to do to stop what is a very real problem. When celebrities making videos on YouTube seem to be doing a better job at helping our at-risk youth, something’s seriously fucking wrong. Go check out that website and perhaps that’s where the real work can begin.
Also for boys, but of an entirely different thing is The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the latest stop motion/CGI animation effort from the folks that brought you Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit. If you’re fans, you’re gonna love Pirates. If not, the humor might be too bloody British. There’s a totally adorable dodo bird in it, Hugh Grant is the voice of the Pirate Captain and…well…that’s that.
In all honesty, it does go a bit long though and in the end, feels a bit slight. But kids will certainly love it and parents will get off on the Charles Darwin bashing. Come to think of it, as minor as it feels, this film was more entertaining than the last two Pirates of the Caribbean movies combined.
For the tougher boys out there, someone who probably wouldn’t get bullied often is a burly guy named Snow in Lockout. He’s played by Guy Pierce and his brand-new biceps. (Watch L.A. Confidential again. Where did Pierce get those giant arms? He must’ve spent a lot of time at the gym since Memento.) Anyway, Pierce plays the one guy able to rescue the President’s daughter (Maggie Grace) from a futuristic super max jail in space. And this is the point in my column where I will now refer to Lockout as Space Jail! because I find it much more appropriate and amusing. (Yes, my version of the title comes complete with exclamation point. I’m a whore for punctuation.)
Space Jail! is a fine enough film. Guy Pearce is the main reason to see it. He’s somehow funny even though the script doesn’t really give him a single witty thing to say. It’s all in his droll, deadpan delivery. Grace, formerly of Lost and Taken, does a fine job of once again being took. It’s a fun enough movie and I remember enjoying it, but I kinda forgot what happened already. It’s disposable like that. Like an orange creamsicle you ate. You remember really liking it but the details escape you soon after.
Boy is currently playing at Consolidated Theatres Kahala 8 & Pearlridge 16.
Bully is currently playing at Consolidated Theatres Kahala 8.
The Pirates! Band of Fisfits are playing at theaters all across Oahu.
Lockout is playing at theaters across Oahu.