Home Movie Vault Disc Vault Coming Soon Join Our Mailing List Articles About Us Contest Soundtrack Books eStore


Genre: Drama
Starring: Nick Cannon, Melonie Diaz, Matt O'Leary, Tom Sizemore, April Grace, Jay Hernandez, Chi McBride
Director: Neil Abramson
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language)
Year Made: 2009






Languages: English
Subtitles: English/Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 1 hr 22 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Origin Entertainment




On his way home from Camp Pendleton for a four day liberty over Thanksgiving weekend, Marine Corps Private Mike Holland meets Cristina, a smart beautiful young woman with plans for college. There's an immediate attraction and by the time they arrive back in their hometown of Bakersfield a romance has been kindled.

But Mike's troubled home life and a tempestuous relationship with Jake, his best friend high school, threaten to intrude on what had promised to be an idyllic R&R. And Cristina's immigrant family (she's Mexican-American, Mike's black) has other plans for her that don't include a 96-hour love affair with a Marine about to ship off to parts unknown but whatever. Mike's nineteen and after six months of grueling training he wants nothing but good times. So he jumps headlong into four days of wild parties, fights, joy, anger and tenderness trying to savour his first true love and final moments of freedom without the infringement of responsiblity. Through it all, though, Mike harbors a troubling seceryt and soon discovers that grown-up reality has a way of trumping youthful illusions and that the war at home can be just as perilous as the one that looms like a bad dream ten thousand miles away.


This Neil Abramson-directed family drama joins a long list of movies in recent years that attempt to deconstruct the cost of the Iraqi war on the American nation, its families and its soldiers. While many other such films tell their story from a post-war perspective, “American Son” does so pre-war through a Marine, Mike (Nick Cannon), who is on Thanksgiving leave from Camp Pendleton just before he ships off.

Unfolding over the course of four days, it is both about the inner struggles Mike encounters with his imminent departure, as well as the friends and family he has to deal with during his time back home. Through a series of volatile events, including an unexpected romantic encounter, director Abramson and writer Eric Schmid endeavour at revealing the psyche behind America’s youths, and their motivation for signing up for a war few actually understand.

It is a lofty ambition for trying to get at something so intrinsically complex and intricate, and lauded though the filmmakers must be for attempting, “American Son” falls way short of succeeding. In fact, it doesn’t take long into the movie before one realises so. One of the first scenes in the movie has Mike approaching a totally random stranger on the bus home, a Latino girl called Cristina (Melonie Diaz), whom Mike eventually exchanges phone numbers and eventually falls in love with. How likely is that, you ask?

The other aspects of Mike’s life also fails to convince- he lives with his stepfather whom he doesn’t like and continues to stay in contact with his biological father; he has a doting mother who is strong-willed but always supportive; and he hangs out with a group of friends who get drunk and smoke pot. Were these clichés better fleshed out, we might have had a more believable character in Mike; as it is, “American Son” makes a caricature of not just Mike, but also other adolescent youths, who enlist in the army.

Indeed, it is only during the final ten minutes when Mike launches into a predictable diatribe of his pained life that one finally gets a sense of what the movie should have been- an honest examination of broken families and confused youths that is the state of the U.S. military ever since its Mideast offensive. By then however, “American Son” is no more than a missed opportunity at portraying an acute picture of social reality that is prescient even till today.

It doesn’t help that Nick Cannon is hardly the competent actor to pull off such a role. The husband of Mariah Carey looks every bit the privileged teenager that is unlikely to be the face of the American soldier in battle. Faring much better is his co-star Matt O’Leary, who plays his provocative friend Jake- one can’t help but think that Leary would have made a more convincing lead than Cannon.

Yes, “American Son” is a noble attempt that ultimately falls way short of what it could have been. The subject it raises though is an interesting and pertinent one, and if writer/director Kimberly Peirce (of the Iraqi war drama “Stop Loss”) should consider doing a similarly-themed movie, she could very well consider this topic for an equally compelling movie that “American Son” unfortunately is not.




The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio suffices for a mostly talky picture. Image is clear but could be sharper especially during the film’s night scenes.



Review by Gabriel Chong

Posted on 8 February 2010


Other titles from Origin Entertainment:

. Cloudy With A Chacne of Meatballs

. Moon

. Year One

. The Ugly Truth

. Sex, Lies In Sin City

. Hardwired

. Terminator Salvation [Blu Ray]

. Obsessed

. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 [Blu Ray]

. Angels & Demons [Blu Ray]

. National Geographic: Sea Monsters [Blu Ray]

. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children [Blu Ray]

. Paul Blart Mall Cop

. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Blu Ray)

. Cadillac Records

. Underworld Rise of the Lycans

. Rachel Getting Married

. Not Easily Broken

. Anacondas Trail of Blood

. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

. Punisher: War Zone (Blu Ray)

. Seven Pounds

. Red Sands

. Fireproof

. Plasterhead

. Slam

. Quarantine

. Center Stage: Turn It Up

. Street Fighter

. The House Bunny

. The Cook

. Step Brothers

. Open Season 2

. Anaconda 3: Offspring

. Hancock

. You Don't Mess With The Zohan

. Prom Night

. Casino Royale

. Redbelt

. Felon

. Tortured

. Penelope

. Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron

. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms

. Away From Her

. The Take

. Saawariya

. Black Book

. The Shepherd

. Conspiracy

. Cleaner

. Hero Wanted

. Shattered

. Breath

. Cashback

. Your Name Is Justine

. Death Sentence

. The Jane Austen Book Club

. Across The Universe

. The Triplets of Belleville

. The Ten Commandments

. CJ7

. Love Lies Bleeding

. Living Death

. La Vie En Rose

. Urban Justice

. Perfect Stranger

. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

. Reign Over Me

. Surf's Up

. 5ivegirls

. Vacancy

. Paprika

. Walking Tall: Lone Justice

. Dead Mary

. Spider-Man 3

. Priceless

. Trust the Man

. The Contractor

. Blood And Chocolate

. The Wicker Man

. Wind Chill

. Are We Done Yet?

. Android Apocalypse

. Elizabeth I

. The Proposition

. 3 Needles

. Ghost Rider

. The Pursuit of Happyness

. The Illusionist

. Catch & Release


This review is made possible with the kind support from Origin Entertainment


DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004- , movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.