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The Conrad Boys (2006)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  24 April 2006 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 727 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 3 critic

Charlie Conrad is ready for college, but the sudden death of his mother and his long-absent father leave him saddled with the adult responsibility of raising his 9-year-old brother.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Ben Conrad (as Boo Boo Stewart)
...
...
Doug Conrad
Nancy Hancock ...
Tori Marshall
Katelyn Ann Clark ...
Louise Denver
Dorian Frankel ...
Evelyn Bridge
Lauren Xerxes ...
Suzie Conrad
...
Vince Miller
...
Andy Calhoun
...
Mark Poland
Connie Schiro ...
Principal Brower
Kari McDermott ...
Paula
Keegan Bell ...
PJ
Wesley Stiller ...
PJ's Boyfriend
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Storyline

Justin Lo makes his feature film debut as Charlie Conrad, a 19-year-old history buff with the world on his shoulders. Following the death of his mother, Charlie sets aside his college plans to raise his highly imaginative 9-year-old brother Ben (Booboo Stewart). Isolated from his peers, Charlie accepts his responsibility yet secretly yearns for the freedom and romance associated with youth. Charlie suddenly gets his chance when he meets Jordan Rivers (Nick Bartzen), a charismatic drifter and fellow lost soul. The two of them hit it off immediately, and they soon embark on a tumultuous romance that gives Charlie a taste of the freedom he's been craving. Just as their relationship intensifies, however, Charlie's long-absent father, Doug (Barry Shay), returns to town with his own plans to take care of Ben. Caught in a struggle for Ben and eager to hold on to Jordan, Charlie must finally search his soul and make momentous decisions regarding the future of his family. Written by theconradboys@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Everything is about to change for Ben & Charlie Conrad..... See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 April 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Os Irmãos Conrad  »

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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where Charlie is waiting for Jordan in the car was filmed behind The Boom Boom Room and The Coast Inn, a legendary gay bar and hotel which had been in that location for decades, one of the oldest gay bars in California, closed in 2006, the year the film was released. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ben Conrad: Charlie, you gotta come see this.
Charlie Conrad: Don't you knock?
Ben Conrad: Come look at my room.
Charlie Conrad: Ben, I gotta finish this before school.
Ben Conrad: I made a new wall for my fort and it's really strong.
Charlie Conrad: Impressive, considering it's probably made out of couch cushions.
See more »

Soundtracks

Oceans
Produced by Dynamedian GbR
Under license from UniqueTracks
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User Reviews

 
A sweet little production
9 July 2008 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

This little movie is not guaranteed to raise your blood pressure much. But the more you watch it and get to know it the more endearing it becomes for its treatment of family issues and coming of age themes in which being gay is calmly taken and accepted as a given but--and this is a good thing--is not the main point and is simply accepted by the protagonist. He has a lot of things to deal with, but who he is happily isn't one of them.

Highly recommended to watch the DVD with Justin Lo's commentary. He gives a good picture of how a no-budget production can be made in a professional manner and why the result looks and sounds pretty darn good. Sure, this is not a very intense or charismatic main character, but I don't agree with some who've said that Justin Lo--who with remarkable self-possession and apparent calm produced, wrote, edited, directed, and starred--should have picked somebody other than himself to play Charlie. Okay, Lo isn't a great actor, like River Phoenix, who maybe (but this is highly theoretical) could have made this character heartrending and unforgettable (I guess I'm thinking a little of Running on Empty), but he's still well cast as Charlie, in whom he seems to have written a good deal of himself, and thus thoroughly believable. At the same time the commentary makes it clear that Justin is not Charlie: the movie is not autobiographical, even though both Lo and his protagonist are half Chinese and half European and gay. In real life Lo was not 19--but he looks young enough for the part. His looks kept reminding me of Joseph Gordon-Leavitt--which is an irrelevant association but a positive one, since Gordon-Leavitt is such a fine actor.

Now, somebody asks why Jordan, the dashing stranger who comes into his life, would even be attracted to Charlie? Well, that's obvious: because Charlie's cute (and obviously gay, in a good way) and sweet--an innocent angel who's all the things Jordan, who's been around the block too many times, is not--and more sensible too--somebody to show the world to, a virgin bride if you will, who will provide the stability in the relationship that he lacks: that's why Jordan's wanting to take Charlie on the road with him makes sense.

It is true that this qualifies to be a Movie of the Week, and not much more. As sincere and true as it is, it's not very ambitious. That's the paradox. Lo deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, loss of parents, alcoholism and recovery, a diminishing future for the main character, (apparently or for all we know) first sexual experience, a stranger who brings danger and illegality into one's life, but the writing, though sincere and authentic, isn't lively enough--compare S.E. Hinton, for instance--to make the milieu come to life. (It's also a limiting factor that Charlie, the main character, is very shy and uptight and has almost zero social life). Compare the world of Hinton's The Outsiders as realized on-screen by Coppola.

But that's not what Lo is trying to do--nor something he could have done: he didn't have access to a dozen Brat Pack dreamboats. The heart and soul of the picture is the exciting stranger, Jordan (quite well brought to life by Nick Bartzen). To continue the S.E. Hinton comparison, it's more a Rumble Fish kind of situation. Charlie winds up stuck with raising his younger brother Ben (the soulful and adorable Boo Boo Stewart) alone for a while. His father Doug (Barry Shay) was an alcoholic and split. Their mother dies suddenly. Charlies defers his acceptance at Columbia and stays in town working in a restaurant. Soon, Doug reappears, two years sober, with a decent job and place to live, wanting to help out. Geeky Charlie has to deal with a lot of disreputability, and also with Ben's gradual estrangement, nightmares, and acting out at school. Then along comes Jordan, and disreputability starts to take on a strong appeal. Lo's screenplay sets up a world in which there are strong moral imperatives in the protagonist's mind, but in the end nothing is as clearcut as he thought. It's simple but it's never schematic; it works.

In the commentary Lo shows how he used his family and friends, all of whom, plus the crew, he fully acknowledges, showing himself to be very much a team player at ease with his role. He uses the same park space four times for different scenes, and even successfully transforms his sister's childhood bedroom into a vice principal's office. Lo worked with available locales and people, other than the lead actors (who are all fine). Charlie's best friend Tori is even played by Lo's actual best friend Nancy Hancock. Lo comments repeatedly on the fact that he had a good cinematographer, and indeed the lighting is excellent throughout, so, as he says, this looks like a movie that cost much more to make.

That ought to be encouraging to anyone who wants to make a first film and doesn't have extensive means. In his commentary Lo says Brokeback Mountain is one of the best films of the past ten years, and declares that Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius. Can't quarrel with that! Think globally, act locally: that was the right way to work. Good luck with future film-making, Justin.


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