In the summer of 1947, a mysterious thirteen-year-old girl, accompanied by her mute mother, seemingly appears from nowhere. When two thirteen-year-old boys fall deeply in love with her, they find themselves on a collision course with one another that could not only destroy their friendship, but take the tiny town of Medda, Alabama with them. Written by
Watching a movie like this that turns out to be a disaster is a strange experience. It's "based" on one of Truman Capote's early short stories. Well, it has the title and characters and setting. The story? Bits and pieces of it.
What's good= If there were an Oscar given for Best Location Scout, this would have won it. The houses and stores are amazing and there are lots of old cars. There's also some great (with the exception of a Celine Dion song that comes out of nowhere) music, using lots of songs from the Big Band era. Ditto costumes and hairstyles.
What's bad= Almost everything else. There are too many situations that had me and Mrs. Bear simply rolling our eyes. But the worst thing is the heavy "Southern" accents the actors have. On stage, they could have gotten away with this. But film is a terribly unforgiving medium in that you've got actors standing on real streets in front of real houses. Director Mark Medoff is a hugely talented writer, having won a Tony Award for CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD. What possessed a writer from Illinois, shooting in great locations in his home state, to think he could handle the speech patterns of the rural South? I recently saw an independent film called NOBLE THINGS, which was set and filmed in the Beaumont, Texas, area. Because its director couldn't afford a lot of Hollywood actors he hired actors from Houston and Beaumont and their speech patterns were natural and unaffected.
At best, CHILDREN ON THEIR BIRTHDAYS is a noble effort gone bad. At worst, its abject financial failure (less than $60 thousand returned on a $10 million investment, although it made some more return on investment through DVD and cable)gives Hollywood an excuse to pump out more sequels, more unwanted remakes, and more ultra violent comic book movies. Maybe I should go back and reduce that rating of 3 even lower.
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