Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Dec 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Just Say Yes

film_boysarebackFather, sons grow up in marvelous ‘Boys Are Back’

Everyone knows about the Neverland, the place where little boys go to avoid growing up. But it’s more than a fairy tale for a carefree, globe-trotting sportswriter thrust suddenly into single fatherhood in The Boys Are Back. Directed by Scott Hicks (Shine), and featuring a marvelous performance by Clive Owen as the conflicted dad,  it’s an extraordinarily wry, poignant, and perceptive look at fathers and sons who use creative anarchy as a means of helping each other come to grips with the cold, hard real world.

Adapted by scriptwriter Allan Cubitt from the memoir by real-life sports journalist Simon Carr, the film stars Owen as Joe Warr, star sportswriter for a major London newspaper. Joe’s the one his editor sends halfway around the world to cover the Olympics, or international soccer playoffs, but he always circles back to terra firma at the beachfront home in South Australia, where his loving, pragmatic Australian wife,  Katie (Laura Fraser), a former Olympic equestrienne, and their little son,  Artie (Nicholas McAnulty), are waiting.

But after he loses his wife to a brief, devastating terminal illness, Joe is left to raise his rambunctious little boy on his own. Against the advice of his in-laws, Joe takes Artie on a short road trip to try to get to know him better, only to discover that the process of knowing and understanding his child will take the rest of his life. In the meantime, confronted with random bouts of the childish obstinance with which kids always test the limits of their parents’ authority, Joe adopts a “just say yes” child-rearing policy.

It’s not that Joe automatically gives in to anything Artie wants, but no request, however crazy, is denied without a conversation. (And some are approved, to the scandal of the neighborhood, from providing nothing but chips and sodas for a kids’ party, to letting Artie fill up a motel bathtub and jump in, or careen across the beach on the hood of his dad’s jeep.) “The more rules there are,” says Joe, the more “crimes” can be committed against them. His solution is, “fewer rules.”

Complicating things further is the arrival of Harry (George MacKay), Joe’s adolescent son from a previous marriage, for the summer. It turns out that Joe left his first wife and little Harry to marry the pregnant Katie.  Joe has always been upfront with the boys about this situation, and remained in long-distance contact with Harry. But when the youth himself, arrives in the household, the wary, but yearning collateral damage of sequential parenting, it adds an extra layer of tension to Joe’s fathering skills as he tries to plumb the depths of Harry’s complex feelings.

Director Hicks borrows liberally from Artie’s favorite storybook, “Peter Pan,” as the film’s chief metaphor. Joe’s rambling beachfront house couldn’t be more like the Neverland, with its riotous fauna, tree house, and swinging ropes outside, and indoor guy-clutter of soccer balls, mismatched sneakers, and old pizza boxes. (It’s quite a contrast to the grey skies, cold stone, and propriety of Harry’s London boarding school when Joe and Artie come to visit.)

The filmmakers also reference the notion in James Barrie’s “Peter Pan” of “drawing a map of a child’s mind,” and tidying up the boisterous, chaotic disorder therein—a task traditionally best left to the mother. (“Shouldn’t the state intervene to make sure a woman takes care of a little boy?” Joe wonders, early on.) Joe, like Barrie, has a love-hate relationship with feminine influence: his devoted but sometimes disapproving mother-in-law is often set in opposition to his plans. Yet the sanest voice of reason in the film is Katie, who appears in tender moments to advise and hearten Joe—advice that helps him and his lost boys navigate the process of growing up together.

Owen plays Joe with sly wit, and beguiling depth and heart. His rapport with both of his excellent young co-stars, MacKay and McAnulty, has the perilous, yet jubilant pulsebeat of real-life relationships. Warm and funny (the poolside dispatch Joe files on Michael Phelps is a riot), and remarkably free of cloying sentimentality, this modest little film is a treasure.  Watch movie trailer >>>

 


film_boys_are_backTHE BOYS ARE BACK ★★★★

With Clive Owen, Nicholas McAnulty, George MacKay, and Laura Fraser. Written by Allan Cubitt. From the memoir by Simon Carr. Directed by Scott Hicks. A Miramax release. Rated PG-13. 104 minutes.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire