Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Eddie Redmayne & Alicia Vikander Feature In Beautiful First Posters For Transgender Drama ‘The Danish Girl’ Eddie Redmayne & Alicia Vikander Feature In Beautiful First Posters For Transgender Drama ‘The Danish Girl’ New Images Of Kristen Stewart In Stoner Comedy 'American Ultra' And Sci-Fi 'Equals' New Images Of Kristen Stewart In Stoner Comedy 'American Ultra' And Sci-Fi 'Equals' Watch: First Trailer For Serial Killer Thriller 'Solace' Starring Anthony Hopkins And Colin Farrell Watch: First Trailer For Serial Killer Thriller 'Solace' Starring Anthony Hopkins And Colin Farrell Watch: Full Length 'Making Batman Begins' Doc, Christopher Nolan Talks Legacy Of Film On 10th Anniversary Watch: Full Length 'Making Batman Begins' Doc, Christopher Nolan Talks Legacy Of Film On 10th Anniversary ‘Game Of Thrones’ Will Probably End After Season 8, But HBO Is Open To Prequels & More ‘Game Of Thrones’ Will Probably End After Season 8, But HBO Is Open To Prequels & More Relativity Puts 'Jane Got A Gun' And More Up For Sale As They Fight Off Bankruptcy Relativity Puts 'Jane Got A Gun' And More Up For Sale As They Fight Off Bankruptcy Zack Snyder Says Batman Has A "Crisis Of Conscience" In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Plus New Pics Zack Snyder Says Batman Has A "Crisis Of Conscience" In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Plus New Pics Venice 2015 Line-Up: 'Equals' With Kristen Stewart, 'Beasts Of No Nation,' 'The Danish Girl,' More Venice 2015 Line-Up: 'Equals' With Kristen Stewart, 'Beasts Of No Nation,' 'The Danish Girl,' More Watch: 4-Minute Tribute To Lars von Trier's Masterful Film Work Watch: 4-Minute Tribute To Lars von Trier's Masterful Film Work New 'Deadpool' Images, Ryan Reynolds Distances Himself From 'X-Men: Origins' New 'Deadpool' Images, Ryan Reynolds Distances Himself From 'X-Men: Origins' TIFF Images: Emma Watson In 'Colonia,' Brie Larson In 'Room,' Charlie Kaufman's 'Anomalisa' And More TIFF Images: Emma Watson In 'Colonia,' Brie Larson In 'Room,' Charlie Kaufman's 'Anomalisa' And More Watch: Blu-Ray Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Plus 11 New Clips From The Film Watch: Blu-Ray Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Plus 11 New Clips From The Film The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances Watch: New Trailer For 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Blu-ray Release Explores Who Killed The World Watch: New Trailer For 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Blu-ray Release Explores Who Killed The World The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 10 All-Time Best Episodes Of 'Parks And Recreation' The 10 All-Time Best Episodes Of 'Parks And Recreation' The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Review: Taika Waititi's 'Boy' A Whimsical & Unique Coming-Of-Age Tale From New Zealand

The Playlist By John Lichman | The Playlist March 3, 2012 at 9:29AM

Taika Waititi’s whimsical, sophomore effort “Boy” is a coming-of age tale that drops us into 1984, and follows the titular Boy (James Rolleston), named after his absentee father, Alamein (Waititi). He lives with his grandmother, younger brother Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) and four cousins who act as adorable window dressing around their rundown farm. When his grandmother leaves for a funeral, Alamein -- newly freed from prison -- returns to their home with two hooligans in tow to crash, with plans to find a pile of money he buried years earlier. Meanwhile, Boy hopes that with his father back in his life, he will take them away and they can be a family.
2
Boy

Taika Waititi’s whimsical, sophomore effort “Boy” is a coming-of age tale that drops us into 1984, and follows the titular Boy (James Rolleston), named after his absentee father, Alamein (Waititi). He lives with his grandmother, younger brother Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) and four cousins who act as adorable window dressing around their rundown farm. When his grandmother leaves for a funeral, Alamein -- newly freed from prison -- returns to their home with two hooligans in tow to crash, with plans to find a pile of money he buried years earlier. Meanwhile, Boy hopes that with his father back in his life, he will take them away and they can be a family.

The humor that Waititi wields is clear if you're familiar with his first film "Eagle vs. Shark," but more so from his contributions to the cult hit "The Flight of the Conchords." Boy's introduction to the viewer (and his class) is through a streaming monologue about his love of Michael Jackson, Rocky possibly having super powers and how his father is the best at everything from rugby to deep sea fishing. The jump-cut style jokes are misleading though, as "Boy" slows down after that introduction, becoming more than just a series of YouTube-ready skits.

Boy

That's not to say there aren't viral moments -- Waititi struts his stuff in three homages to the King of Pop -- but they're distributed throughout 88 minutes that breeze past. However, there are some cultural aspects that might fly over audiences' heads, since Waititi dives into Maori culture with little context for those who might be unfamiliar with it. In some ways, "Boy" is the less depressing version of Lee Tamahori's "Once Were Warriors," which explored modern life for the Maori in New Zealand as bleak, violent and broken. Whereas many films depicting Maori culture focus on amoral bruisers or thugs, Waititi highlights the reality of the false machismo that he grew up with. He keeps Alamein dressed as if he were a leather jacket-wearing bad-ass with a mustache, yet physically he's a lanky goofball. From high kicks to awkwardly crawling into his car through the window, he clearly displays the dissonance between Boy's childhood idolization and the actual reality of who he is.

But the cultural touches can be ignored as they don't really affect the family story that Waititi unfurls on screen; pop culture, however, is a different matter. The director gives us way too many references to the 80s ranging from the obvious ("How's it having a dad like the Incredible Hulk?") to the subtle (the Charger Alamein drives is familiar to anyone who’s seen “The Road Warrior”). These nods even precede the decade, as Alamein adopts the name "Shogun" after reading a ratty copy of James Clavell's bestselling 1975 novel of the same name. It's a neat trick to keep the audience involved, just in case the Maori heritage is lost on them or if they can't get into the local patois, but it can be a bit much at times.

However, beneath the quirkiness and silliness of "Boy,” there's a legitimate artistic presence on display. Waititi wrote, produced, directed and starred in the film, which goes beyond it’s coming-of-age story structure, to become something much richer and deeper that still leaves a smile on your face. And stick around for the credits, because there is a homage to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" will keep you enthralled until the lights come up. [B]

This article is related to: Boy, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates