Taika Waititi's second feature film (after Eagle vs. Shark and episodes of TV's Flight of the Conchords), is a coming-of-age comedy set in the '80s, East Coast, New Zealand.
Boy (James Rolleston) is obsessed with Michael Jackson - in particular, his dance moves - and his little brother Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu) possibly possesses 'powers'. The pair are trying to find their potential (and the meaning of the word "potential") while living in the shadow of their larger-than-life dad, Alamein (Waititi).
In Boy's eyes, his dad is a hero: a deep-sea diver, war veteran, rugby captain and close relation of Michael Jackson. But in reality Alamein is doing seven years in jail and is a member of the three-man Crazy Horses gang. Now out of the can, Dad returns home and Boy is confronted with the man he thought he remembered.
Best Film, Director, Supporting Actor (Waititi), Screenplay, Cinematography and Editing at the NZ Film Awards 2010.
Apart from the local vistas and mostly Maori cast, Waititi has scrubbed away all culturally specific traits from his growing-up-Kiwi comedy, concentrating instead on the same things that might infatuate any other 1984-era moppet: a schoolyard crush, a missing dad and, above all, Michael Jackson.
Further proof that Wes Anderson has overtaken Quentin Tarantino as the world's most mimicked indie auteur, this Kiwi coming-of-age story employs enough quirky costuming, symmetrical framing and sub-Mothersbaugh-scored slo-mo sequences to make Max Fischer blush.
This unpretentious comic tale of a youngster’s growing relationship with a long-absent father has a surprising rhythmic genius: joy juxtaposed with humiliation, silliness with sadness, fantasy with reality, and none of it formulaic. The editing feels fresh, as does the film.
The thing with Taika Waititi's wildly successful short film, Two Cars, One Night, was that it lasted only 11 minutes. Just long enough to generate a smile, and take a whole lot of us back to pub car parks in the '70s.
A cross between "The 400 Blows" and "Slumdog Millionaire" (though not quite in their class)... James Rolleston's sweet, winning performance in the title role as a kid with a lot of potential and a vivid imagination, largely overcomes the leisurely storytelling. It's a crowd-pleasing film that could find a modest theatrical audience.
One of the unexpected triumphs of Boy, an enormously likeable coming-of-age comedy, lies in its ability to recapture the vulnerability and optimism of childhood without becoming twee or maudlin in the process.