Set on the east coast of New Zealand in the year 1984, Boy, an 11-year-old kid and devout Michael Jackson fan gets a chance to know his father, who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years ago.
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A film crew are making a Reality TV show about a couple brought together by a dating agency. However, the couple are so incompatible that the crew must manipulate the relationship to get the footage they need.
It's 1984, and Michael Jackson is king-even in Waihau Bay, New Zealand. Here we meet Boy, an 11-year-old who lives on a farm with his gran, a goat, and his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has magic powers). Shortly after Gran leaves for a week, Boy's father, Alamein, appears out of the blue. Having imagined a heroic version of his father during his absence, Boy comes face to face with the real version-an incompetent hoodlum who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years before. This is where the goat enters. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
Director Taika Waititi was less than a week away from filming when he realised the boy he had as lead wasn't working out. Three days before filming began, James Rolleston, who was hanging around on set as an extra, was given the lead by Taika Waititi. See more »
The plastic road markers that "Boy" was playing with and bending down on the side of the road were not found anywhere in New Zealand until around 1990. The film is set 6 years earlier when wooden road markers were in use. See more »
Introspective narrative can work profound change, and this is a good example.
The story is simple enough: New Zealand native village; extreme poverty; passel of young kids establishing the world of the narrative.
One of these is our narrator, the Boy, about ten. His primary concern is how he appears to his mates and the local girls. Various comic devices set the tone before his father arrives back from prison. We then see some endearing shared fantasies, before Boy gets the truth about his Dad as selfishly irresponsible. The shape is generally called "coming of age." Thousands of these have been made. They have a built in minimal appeal, and great constraints on the ability to say anything new.
But this does have something new, thanks to the apparently limitless gateway of self- reference. We watch the movie that includes an inner movie of the boy's life, composed of fragments of other movies. We've had this since "Breathless," of course. The fragments have to do with roles associated with the father, mostly war movies, and about Boy, mostly Michael Jackson videos.
Here's something new: after we get all that settled, there is a second inner movie fold that appears, the Dad and his cohorts. He brings his own inner movie, different than Boy's. It is one of a rebel gang: James Dean, Marlon Brando. Boy tries to adapt his inner movie to his dad's and in the process breaks both.
Along the way, there is a spectrum of what we see: the narrator in the film, his ordinary life, his fantasies as he sees them. His fantasies as we see them. His dad's fantasies as he, we and Boy sees them.
Taika Cohen wrote, directed and stars as the dad. It is good, very good.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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