Friday, 29 June 2012

BOY - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Some Kiwi Treacle to warm your cockles or to upchuck bile. The highest grossing New Zealand movie of all time. Surely this must say something. What, exactly, I'm not sure.

Boy (2010) dir. Taika Waititi

Starring: James Rolleston, Taika Waititi, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu


Review By Greg Klymkiw

Call me cold-hearted. Call me an asshole. Call me a curmudgeon. Call me anything you like. You can even call me Shirley. Whatever epithets you fling my way, nothing will change the fact that I pretty much detested Boy.

Yes, I know. It's New Zealand's darling. It's the highest grossing indigenous picture from Kiwi Island of all time, a film festival favourite, a winner of numerous Grand Prizes, Jury Accolades, Audience Awards and the recipient of a ridiculous number of rave reviews (including some from critics who should know better). Really. The last time I checked it had some ridiculous 87% on the meter over at Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 70%.

Are these people out of their minds?

Or am I?

After all, how could anyone detest such a harmless piece of fluff?

It's easy.

The movie is very warm and fuzzy.

It's awash in (UGH!!!) nostalgic pining for the 80s.

It's about poor, but happy Kiwi aboriginal people.

It's a movie where the protagonists are Michael Jackson lovers.

And it's whimsical.

Have I mentioned the whimsy, yet?

Well, now I have.


Is there any word in the English language that releases more bile than that? If there is, I'd like to know what it is.

Or maybe it doesn't make you vomit. Maybe, you'd actually enjoy this treacle involving the title character (James Rolleston), a lad whose Mum has died (boo-hoo-hoo), lives in a squalid, old house full of goats, chickens and a veritable ant colony of his cousins and half cousins and God knows what other relatives Granny is taking care of?

Have I mentioned yet that they're poor, but happy?

Maybe you'll flip completely over the lad's whimsical imagination that conjures up fantasies of his brother (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) having (UGH!!!) magical powers.

Maybe you'll be doing the bloody Moonwalk when Boy indulges himself in fantasies and fan worship of Michael Jackson.

And maybe, just maybe, you'll find it touching that Boy pines for his Dad (Taika Waititi) - M.I.A. from the family unit for many long years and probably in prison as opposed to being on the grand adventures the lad imagines his erstwhile progenitor to be having.

Maybe you'll rejoice when Dad finally shows up and proves to be a loveable rascal. Accompanied by a couple of bumbling thugs, they've really returned to find the money they stole and buried in a field across from the family home. Maybe you'll be slapping your knee uncontrollably over the fact that Dad forgets exactly where he buried it and everyone begins digging holes all over the property.

Lord knows, I was trying to laugh, but was distracted by just how good to be alive this movie was supposed to be making me feel. (I remember seeing Rain Man first-run and as the end titles came up, I looked blankly at my friend and he looked blankly at me, and in perfect deadpan he remarked, "I guess we're supposed to feel something, huh?")

And when the moments came when Dad talks about how much he loved Boy's Mum, I know I was supposed to be moved to tears, but was distracted by a movement in my bowels. I did not succumb. I clenched my gluteal muscles with all my strength and kept watching.

I didn't want to miss a thing.

And I didn't.

Somehow I don't think my life was richer for it.

What I do know, is that my life was indeed richer for seeing Matthew McConaughey forcing someone at gunpoint to fellate a KFC drumstick in William Friedkin's Killer Joe.

Choose your whimsy wisely, ladies and gentlemen.

You might find it in the most unexpected places.

"Boy" is playing theatrically via Mongrel Media and premiered first-run in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

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