A Boy, His Father and Michael Jackson

A Review of Boy Without Spoilers

The year is 1984 and Boy, the 11 year old main character in the film of the same name who is the BoyCredit: http://boythefilm.com/oldest of the young cousins living with his Nana, adores Michael Jackson, crushes on an older girl in school, and fantasizes about his absentee father.  Set all of this on the rural East coast of New Zealand and you have the world of the film Boy (2010), written and directed by Taika Waititi who also plays the role of the father.

Hijinks ensue as Nana leaves to attend a funeral down south, Boy is left to care for the cousins, and his father returns.  Boy and his younger brother Rocky must come to terms with who their father is as well as their own sense of place in the family.  This process in the film is punctuated with hilarity and unexpected touching moments.  The child actors in the film are a pleasure to watch while Waititi's loser character is both likable and frustrating.  The heavy 80s pop culture references almost seem like characters in the movie itself as the movies (E.T.), the icons (Michael Jackson and The Hulk) and the books (Shogun) are the bridges of understanding between Boy and his father.  Lastly, New Zealanders are known for their dry humor -- it shines through in Boy (the humor is similar to Wes Anderson's work but funnier) and, when contrasted with the bravado of Waititi's character as well as the naivetè of the child characters, makes for some excellent dialogue and, ultimately, a wonderful film.

Taika Waititi in BoyCredit: http://boythefilm.com/

If you don't know who Taika Waititi is, you soon will.  He is the writer, director and producer behind Boy, has played the hero's best friend in The Green Lantern, won awards for his short film, Two Cars, One Night and his first feature film was Eagle vs. Shark.  As the writer of the New Zealand based television series, Super City, he is doing a pilot for an American version of the same show. 

Boy is the best movie to come out of the New Zealand film-making community in the last few decades (as Hollywood products, the Lord of the Rings films don't count, peeps).  Waititi consciously resists the stereotype of the hopeless urban Maori of Once Were Warriors as well as the tragi-romantic tribal nostalgia of Whale Rider to create a coming of age tour de force that makes audiences laugh, cry and revel in the popular culture of the 1980s.

The Child Actors in BoyCredit: http://boythefilm.com/

I was able to attend a recent Q & A session about the film with Taika Waititi where he acknowledged that Boy is the biggest grossing NZ made film in the country's box office history.  Now it will be showing in limited release across the U.S. due to a successful crowd tap campaign at Kickstarter where enough funding was raised to bring the film over. You can see if your city is on the list here or wait until it is released on DVD in the U.S. some time during the second half of 2012.  Either way, Boy is a movie worth seeing.