C'MON C'MON (2021)

Genre: Drama
Director: Mike Mills
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffman, Scoot McNairy, Woody Norman, Molly Webster, Jaboukie Young-White
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website:

Opening Day: 7 April 2022

Synopsis: Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his young nephew (Woody Norman) forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they are unexpectedly thrown together in this delicate and deeply moving story about the connections between adults and children, the past and the future, from writer-director Mike Mills. 

Movie Review:

C’mon C’mom is best summed up more as a documentary/family movie. Equally thoughtful and heartfelt, the drama written and directed by Mike Mills (Beginners) opens with a series of interviews with children in Detroit asking them about their thoughts on the future. We see our leading man, Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), a soft-spoken radio journalist doing his job until a call with his sister, Viv (Gabby Hoffmann) whom he has not been in contact for a while changes his mundane routine.

Johnny offers to babysit Viv’s nine-year-old boy, Jesse (Woody Norman) while she has to made an urgent trip to visit her bipolar husband, Paul (Scott McNairy) in Oakland and gets him to clinical treatment. Jesse however is not an ordinary boy who is glue to the screen. He is precocious, curious and imaginative.

Unlike The Tender Bar who also has an uncle taking on the role of a surrogate father, C’mon C’mom on the other hand feels more believable, painful and sorrow. While definitely not a coming-of-age story, Mills’ tale feels like one for the most part. Technically, Jesse is still a young kid but his thinking, articulation skill far exceeds the average child of his age. Because of his father’s condition, he is concerned about his future wondering if he might turned into his dad. He is curious about the relationship between his Uncle Johnny and his mother. Sometimes, he imagined himself as an orphan.

But deep down Jesse is still a young boy. He throws tantrums and run away whenever Johnny is on the phone or he is not getting the attention he wanted from the latter. The boy also gets high on sugar and at times, he simply can’t stop talking about random stuff. Young English actor Woody Norman carries the film with much talent and flair that you chooses to empathise than be irritated by his antics.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the story unfolds quietly instead in a loud, dramatic manner. Not that there is a lot to cover anyway. Yet there is an underlying honesty and authenticity to appreciate between uncle and nephew.

The obvious bright side is likely the most endearing performance from Joaquin Phoenix in recent years. Of course, the Academy Award winner is known for his eccentric, unhinged performances in flicks liked Joker, Inherent Vice and right here, he plays Uncle Johnny to the T. He gets frustrated when Jesse refuses to sleep, throws tantrums and ran away. He entertains Jesse with his stories and audio equipment. He is struggling and slowly adapting to his new role as a guardian and uncle. It’s as real as the interviews he conducts with children all over the country. The man who has a fallout with Viv over their late dementia-suffering mother is slowly developing a reconnection to his family members with his journey with Jesse.

Constructed using a rather loose narrative, C’mon C’mom is a lovely low-key drama that depicts a supportive family tie and parenting. Lensed beautifully in black and white by Robbie Ryan, New York, Detroit and New Orleans has never look so surreal and picturesque. If you are getting distracted and restless as an audience, just treat this slow drama as more of an “experience” as opposed to a traditional film despite its decent intentions.

Movie Rating:



(For every commercial big release out there, there will always be a mature, emotionally complex drama liked C’mon C’mom waiting to be discover)

Review by Linus Tee


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