Boy recreates a time when young boys and Michal Jackson were not a sniggering matter. This delightful, insightful Kiwi film proves what can still be done on a small budget. It is funny, moving and disturbing at times. Its Mature Audience classification in Australia belies the cast of children who seem to have little difficulty dealing with so-called adult themes that bedevil the oldies.
Set in 1984, Boy is thoroughly modern in its exploration of their world. Writer/director Taika Waititi has drawn on his schooldays in New Zealand and his Maori background. He also very entertaining as the tragi-comic adult lead Alamein, leader of his 3 man Crazy Horse gang.
Waititi's light touch makes for a mostly gentle and genuinely funny journey with Alamein’s two sons and their whimsical collection of cousins and schoolmates. Some of the lesser lights struggle with their lines but it doesn’t really matter. The really young ones basically do everything without dialogue and don’t miss a beat.
The three make a quixotic family. 11 year-old Boy, is the idealist. James Rollston is a natural in this part. His bumbling innocence reminds me of the boys in Stand By Me, as he knocks on the door of puberty. Younger brother Rocky is the dreamer and fantasist. It’s hard not to be captivated by Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu’s performance. Taika makes a flawed, roguish but likable knight as Alamein.
Do yourself a favour. Spend a little time in Waihau Bay. Like Boy, it realises lots of its potential.