Boy

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Feb 20, 2014
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Taika Waititi

Release Date(s)

2010 (July 9, 2013)

Studio(s)

Kino Lorber

Review

Boy is a 2010 film all the way from New Zealand about an 11 year old boy named... Boy, who takes care of his brothers and sisters for the summer while his Nanny is away. His mother has passed on and his father is in jail, that is until he shows up on Boy’s doorstep with his prison buddies looking for the money that they stole before being locked up. Boy idolizes his father (and Michael Jackson), but over the course of the film, Boy grows up and learns to deal with his uncaring father and be a stronger person.

For a film that was one of the biggest hits in New Zealand’s box office history, Boy comes off as something a bit on the clichéd side to me. Audiences and critics have sang the praises of the film and that it’s one of the finest films of recent memory... and I don’t really get it. For my money, the best movie about growing up is still Saturday Night Fever, and that film didn’t even really deal with the family dynamic all that much the way this film does.  In this film, it’s the main drive of the story. Boy learns the hard way what it’s like to see your idol (his father) fall before your eyes. The ending of the film really leaves that open to interpretation, but I think that’s what director Taika Waititi was going for.  It’s also an ending that, unfortunately, doesn’t pay off well for the story that preceded it.  But then again, it didn’t have anywhere else to go anyway.  It was just kind of done.

All that being said, I’m sure I’m coming off a little harsh here. I didn’t dislike Boy. There’s still a lot to like about it. It’s set in 1984 (mainly because of the ties to Michael Jackson and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial), but the music and the film’s structure make it feel a lot like an 80’s movie to me. Oddly enough, it reminds me of The Breakfast Club in some ways. Not that either film has anything to do with the other, but it does hearken back to a time of simple storytelling. It’s very playful, upbeat and cheerful, but can land some drama in your lap without expecting it. It’s also a film that makes use of music to set its tone.  And being shot in New Zealand, you can expect some beautiful vistas and lovely country sides, but also some very lovely cinematography. The performances are all very good, as well. So yeah, like I said, there’s plenty to enjoy. But I think for someone who actually lives in New Zealand, it probably has a lot more meaning. It does bring poverty to the forefront, after all. But for an American film fan like myself, just judging the film by its own merits, it’s merely very good and competent, but not much more than that I’m afraid. Still, if this subject matter interests you, you’re likely to enjoy it.

For Kino Lorber’s debut of Boy here in Region A territory, they’ve chosen to, as with the rest of their titles (those that I’ve seen anyway), not polish up the film in any way and just sort of present it as is. For older films, especially films with terrible defects in them, this can prove problematical. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Boy. There’s a very fine picture on display here. I mentioned the cinematography before, and it dazzles in high definition. Film grain is very much present but not overburdening, color balance is very good but not perfect (by design, I suspect), blacks are mostly deep, skin tones look quite good, and both contrast and brightness are at their proper levels. Sonically, much is the same. There are two tracks to choose from, both English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD tracks. I preferred much more the 5.1 because of how it opens up the soundtrack. This isn’t about great sweeping surround activity from speaker to speaker, but there’s some very nice ambience to be heard, as well as the film’s music. And the dialogue is always clean and clear, so there’s not much to complain about. Sadly, there are no subtitle tracks, which is a shame. I think it would have been wise to include at least one, given that the very thick New Zealand accents of the characters might be difficult to understand for some.

The disc also comes with a few extras, which include the short film by director Taika Waititi Two Cars, One Night, a set of interviews and B-roll footage, Kickstarter update videos, and the film’s theatrical trailer. Pretty short and sweet, but satisfactory nonetheless.

Sometimes a film like Boy needs to do a lot more to win over a cynic like me. I’m not stone-hearted or anything, don’t get me wrong. I know it’s not meant to be anything more than what it is and that you’re meant to feel something, and you do, make no mistake, but I took the disc out of my disc drive feeling a bit indifferent towards the film. I’m sure very few of the people who’ve seen it feel that way though, so you should give it a spin and judge for yourself.

- Tim Salmons

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