Starring: James Rolleston, Taika Waititi, Moerangi Tihore
Director: Taika Waititi
Running Time: 87 mins
Boy is a New Zealand film about a young boy living in a rural town on the East Coast of New Zealand in 1984, who sees his estranged father return home, seeking a pile of money he buried years before.
From Taika Waititi, director of What We Do In The Shadows, Hunt For The Wilderpeople and Thor: Ragnarok, Boy is as incredibly quirky and bizarre as you would expect. However, along with its strange sense of humour, it’s also a very heartfelt and intimate little film, using its small setting to great advantage, furthered by two great lead performances from James Rolleston and Waititi himself.
First off, it’s important to recognise just what sort of a film this is before going ahead and watching it. Much like a Wes Anderson movie, Boy is unrelenting in its quirkiness, using its bizarre sense of humour to the full from beginning to end, furthered by deliberately wooden dialogue, and an even stranger decision to have characters talk in almost alien high-pitched voices.
So, along with being a simply entertaining comedy, that quirkiness gives Boy real character and charm, with Taika Waititi brilliantly refusing to let up in delivering something so fantastically strange throughout, and as such making for a really memorable and unique, albeit constantly bemusing movie.
However, it’s not just the quirky comedy that makes the film good, because it’s also got a really pleasant, heartfelt dramatic story to it as well. At first, the film is all about good old 80s nostalgia, following the life of a young boy growing up in the middle of the decade, with Waititi clearly making a fond look back on his own childhood, something that shines through wonderfully throughout.
After that, the film turns into a surprisingly intimate and deep story about the importance of father-son relationships, and how young boys look up to their fathers so much at a young age. That’s something that anybody can relate to, and as such makes for an especially captivating watch, particularly when we see father and son bonding so strongly after years apart.
That part of the story is furthered even more by some wonderful performances by James Rolleston and Taika Waititi. Rolleston, in the lead role, is hugely likable throughout, and while performing the bizarrely wooden and quirky dialogue, has a real genuine quality that makes his young character’s coming-of-age story all the more pleasant to watch.
That’s my general impression of Boy, a nice, pleasant and nostalgic tale with good heart and typically bizarre comedy from Taika Waititi. However, there is one part of that that frustrated me a little, the fact that everything feels a little too lightweight.
At only 89 minutes, I’m not expecting spellbinding drama, and given the genre and director, there’s no need for this to be a deeply moving film, however I felt that the film’s bizarre comedy, while unique and entertaining throughout, did lose a little of its spark over the course of an hour and a half, and along with a twist in the story that hurts the most heartfelt elements, leaves the film’s finale a little underwhelming.
Overall, however, I did like Boy. It’s not a perfect, or entirely world-changing film, but thanks to its quirky and likable character, as well as a heartfelt story and two great central performances, it’s a great watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.