Running Time: 87 minutes
Release Date: 26 August 2010
Following critical acclaim and box office success in New Zealand, Boy finally travels west to debut on Australian shores. In his second feature film by director Taika Waititi (Flight of the Concords) it follows the story of Boy (James Rolleston) growing up in the Eastern Bay of Plenty in the 1980’s. Boy is the oldest in a family of children raised by their grandmother. When gran has to attend a funeral in Wellington, Boy is left to look after the clan. In order to cope with life’s challenges he makes up stories of a palatable life which he serves to family and friends. Much of his fantasy involves his incarcerated father Alamain (Taika Waititi), whom he hero worships, as most children do, and reinvents him as a deep sea diver, war veteran, rugby player and relative of Michael Jackson. On release from jail Alamain returns to the family home with his two gang members much to Boy’s delight though his younger brother Rocky (Eketone Whatu) is not quite so enamoured of the man absent of much of his life. As events unfold Boy faces the reality of his father’s foibles and they both come to terms with them in this coming of age tale.
This story is presented in such a funny endearing style mainly 80’s references, so its easy pickings, but the humour never quite disguises the underlying pain and heartbreak. Who thought the humble spoon would have so many different applications! This Maori community is blighted with loss of identity turning to Western culture even when naming their children – Dynastsy, Dallas and Falcon Crest, again 80’s soap opera references. Though cracks appear in the fabric of their lives they have the resilience to wallpaper over the damage with the hope of youthful idealism. It has an even handed tone and Waititi pulls off the difficult task of conveying the darkness and hopelessness whilst the humour is still able to punctuate and communicate this. The kitschy 80’s era is conveyed well from the clothes to the cars to the Michael Jackson music. Waititi was an 80’s child and it clearly shows, however his character Alamain is cartoonish and one dimensional, though he still manages to make a poignant transformation in spite of this. Rolleston in his film debut as Boy does a remarkable job in carrying the film and is well supported by Eketon Whatu as Rocky. The use of child like illustrations just underscores the film’s viewpoint from a youthful perspective hence one can be unforgiving as picturing the father as one dimensional as comprehending the complexity of the adult would be in a simplistic form.
The dialogue is hilarious and delivered with good comic timing. It is the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time which is understandable as it is not a well made film but with wide appeal and approachability. It contains universal themes so you dont have to be a native New Zealander to appreciate it.