Taika Waititi’s “Boy”
The filmmaker returns to the stomping grounds of his youth in this lighthearted comedy/drama/coming-of-age film.
New Zealand, 1984. Boy is an eleven-year-old Maori boy living in a small farming community inWaihauBaywith his grandmother, cousins and pet goat. We learn that Boy’s mother died while giving birth to Boy’s brother, Rocky, who thinks he has superpowers. According to Boy, his father is “overseas doing some pretty important stuff,” but everyone knows he’s really doing a stint in prison for robbery. Boy dreams of his father returning home one day and taking him to see his idol, Michael Jackson.
School has just let out for the summer and Boy’s grandmother leaves town to attend a funeral, leaving Boy in charge of the house. That is, until Boy’s absentee father Alamein returns home and into Boy’s life, turning his world upside down. Alamein and his self-styled gang, the Crazy Horses, immediately go to work searching for their stash of stolen cash, which they buried several years earlier when fleeing from police. At first it seems Boy’s dream has come true, but eventually he must come to grips with the realization that his father may not be the hero that existed in his imagination for so many years.
Writer/director Taika Waititi is perhaps best known for his work on the New Zealand sketch comedy series “Flight of the Concords” and his first feature Eagle vs Shark, in addition to playing the role of Tom Kalmaku in last year’s flop Green Lantern. He first gained recognition with his 2003 Academy Award nominated short film Two Cars, One Night, upon which he allegedly based the script for Boy. The title role is masterfully portrayed by newcomer James Rolleston, who was originally cast as an extra in the film, but was a last minute replacement for the lead a mere three days before shooting began.
Boy premiered at Sundance in 2010 to generally positive reviews, and was released in New Zealand and Australia later that year. After doing the festival circuit, it will finally see a stateside release in March.