Clive Owen delivers a critically acclaimed performance in The Boys Are Back, the heartwarming and uplifting drama about a man who is suddenly thrust into the role of single parent. Successful sportswriter Joe Warr (Owen) finds himself completely unprepared to raise his rambunctious 6-year-old son Artie -- and juggle the challenges of a demanding job, running a household and the possibility of romance. Determined to bring joy back into their lives, he develops a revolutionary approach to parenting -- no rules, no chores. It's a home filled with love and chaos -- and then Joe's estranged teenage son comes for a visit. Inspired by a true story and filled with emotional honesty, this poignant film will touch your heart and lift your spirits.
In the poignant family drama "The Boys Are Back", Clive Owen plays a father left bereft by the unexpected death of his wife, Katy. Faced with the responsibility of raising his six-year old son Artie (Nicholas McAnuity) alone, Owen's Joe Warr adopts an unusual parenting philosophy- no rules. You'd only have to ask any parent to know how that would eventually turn out, though it takes Joe one stupid decision of leaving his kids at home alone while going away for work to realise his folly.
Joe also happens to be remarried and has a son, Harry (George McKay) from an earlier marriage. Harry has asked to visit and as the older child, finds himself tasked with taking care of his younger stepbrother Artie. That all works out relatively fine, until of course, Joe's unwise move to leave them alone by themselves at home one night as he, the sports writer, drives off to cover the Australian Open. Thus in the span of a single movie, "The Boys Are Back" ambitiously packs the many complexities of modern family life- that could in fact be the subjects of three separate films.
Were this adaptation of a memoir by Simon Carr in the hands of a lesser director, the film could end up as no more than maudlin melodrama. But Scott Hicks, the director of the award-winning Australian film "Shine", knows better. Deftly avoiding the deliberate wringing of tears, Hicks allows the innately moving story of single and reconstituted families to unfold naturally, and it is this fluidity that allows the events that follow to possess their own emotional anchor.
From the sudden departure of Katy, to Joe's realisation of his position as a single parent, to his struggle to be father to two sons from different marriages, to the possible romance with a single mother whose daughter attends the same school as Artie, Hicks lets his audience absorb the sorrow, desperation, exuberance and enlightenment of his characters. Through the seeming recklessness of Joe, Harry and Artie, Hicks makes the point that all three of the central male characters in the story are searching for their own way in life- the father learning the responsibilities of parenthood, the adolescent learning to be responsible, and the child learning to cope and adapt.
The fact that Hicks' film is able to make its audience empathise with its characters is also testament to the wonderful acting by Clive Owen, George McKay and Nicholas McAnuity. Owen tones down his trademark sex-symbol magnetism to reveal a softer, more affectionate but no less charming side that we haven't seen. And together with his co-stars, the father-sons trio share a nice chemistry with one another that makes their bonding and reconciliation with one another even more winning.
If there is one gripe about this otherwise stellar film, it is that the film's climax, stemming from Joe's leaving the boys alone in the house, seems somewhat artificially constructed and resolved especially in light of the rest of the film's authenticity. But by that time, this lovely family drama would already have won you over with its consistently engaging performances and realistically compelling situations.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is strong on bass and tends to be a bit shrill at times. Picture is clear and lovingly brings out the gorgeous sun-swept landscapes of Down Under.
MOVIE RATING :
by Gabriel Chong
on 24 April 2010