Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quick Look: The Boys Are Back (2009)

Clive Owen is definitely a movie star. If you haven’t figured that out from his excellent performances and distinctive persona on display in films as varied as Children of Men, Sin City, Inside Man, The International, and Duplicity, you’ll discover it here in The Boys Are Back, not because this is a great movie, or even a good one, but because his mere presence illuminates an otherwise dull endeavor. It’s a based-on-a-true-story teary-eyed tale of a widower who has to juggle his sports-writer career with raising his two sons. That’s rich material and easily emotional, but that’s precisely why it fails. Director Scott Hicks, who has done excellent work in the past and will hopefully do so again, doesn’t strive to reach any emotion beyond that which is already hanging so low, the branch has snapped off of the tree. Every scene is slathered in sentimentality, though the shots themselves sometimes achieve a kind of beauty denied the film as a whole. The script, by Allan Cubitt, is merely competent. It’s a good thing then, that Owen, and the two young guys who play the sons (George MacKay and Nicholas McAnulty), are such sharp, appealing performers. Together they almost make the movie better than the script ultimately allows.

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