by Anne Thompson
September 16, 2009 2:23 AM 3 Comments
Everyone goes into Toronto with a schedule of films to watch. And that list changes with buzz. Some movies fall off due to bad WOM, while others become must-sees. IndieWIRE's in-progress critics' poll of 34 films is indicative of the movies that everyone went to see-- and the ones that nobody did.
I checked out Scott Hicks' The Boys Are Back Tuesday night because it's Miramax's big fall release starring Clive Owen. Miramax has the North American piece of the BBC/Screen Australia co-production, which is impeccably made. Adapted by Brit Allan Cubitt (Prime Suspect 2) from sports writer Simon Carr's memoir about raising two boys Down Under after the death of his wife, the movie rings true. My little brother and I were also raised by a writer single father who didn't care about housekeeping and liked to drink. And as a parent, I could relate too.
But Miramax has its work cut out. So far, Owen has not proved a marquee draw at the box office, nor is he an Oscar perennial (he was nominated once, for supporting actor for Closer). He's charming here as a free-wheeling clueless ex-workaholic who loves his kids and tries to become a responsible parent. But while the movie played for the Toronto crowd, the endearing PG-13 family film defines the word "soft." Even if it earns rave reviews, the marketing trick for Miramax will be convincing adult audiences to sample the movie (which opens September 25): no mean feat these days.
[Photo: Newcomer Nicholas McAnulty at Miramax's The Boys Are Back dinner at Toronto's Bymark restaurant.]