While the trailer of December Boys looked sweet, I have to admit that the real reason I was interested in the movie was to see Daniel Radcliffe out of his wizarding cloak (and I don't mean that in the "Equus" kind of way). Unfortunately, the movie doesn't offer up very much to sink your teeth into, and while Radcliffe gives a perfectly fine performance, I'd much rather see Harry Potter any day.
The movie follows four orphans (who go by their nicknames Maps, Misty, Spit and Sparks) who have found a close camaraderie. Dubbed "December boys" based on their common birth month, they are the first group in the orphanage who are given the opportunity to take a holiday on the Australian coast. At first their vacation is all about enjoying their freedom, running around on the beach and scheming to steal beer from the locals. However, Misty quickly learns that one of the local couples is thinking about adopting a child, and the boys find their brotherly bond being tested when they begin competing for the couple's affections. To see what else I thought of the movie just
Two of the film's biggest themes are faith and abandonment, which weigh heavily on Maps and Misty. Misty (Lee Cormie), the narrator of the film, is the youngest and most religious of the four boys. His nickname draws from his tendency to cry, and he's basically the runt of the pack. His faith in religion makes him feel different from his friends and his desire to be adopted only widens the rift between them. Radcliffe plays Maps, the oldest of the four boys who slowly transitions from best friend to father figure as the plot unfolds. As the teenager of the group, Maps is confronted with issues of adulthood and first love. As Misty becomes consumed by his desire to belong to a loving family, Maps becomes more convinced that the only person he can truly depend on his himself.
On paper, December Boys is a sentimental tale of friendship and brotherhood, but in reality it fails to engage the audience emotionally. As I watched, I was very aware that I should have been feeling a much deeper connection to the main characters as they were faced with important challenges and major milestones. Instead I felt detached from the story from beginning to end, which makes the movie forgettable overall.
I should point out that the movie is not all bad. The actors deliver solid performances and the movie does have funny points. It's not boring or unwatchable. It has its touching moments of friendship and bravery, as well as a lot of gorgeous shots of the Australian coast. That being said, when I walked out of the theater I took with me very little other than a desire to head to the beach.
Photos courtesy of Warner Independent Pictures