2007 - Australia - 105 minutes
Director - Rod Hardy
Writer - Marc Rosenberg from a novel by Michael Noonan
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
December Boys is an overly sentimental and cliché ridden tale, but it has a special something that makes it work. That something is the engaging performances of the two major boys - Daniel Radcliffe and Lee Cormie.
The action takes place during a Christmas holiday of the late 60's or early 70's in Australia. The December boys are four boys from an outback orphanage whose birthdays fall in December. They are given a treat of a vacation at the shore provided by an older couple.
The four are three pre-adolescents - Sparks, Spit, and Misty (Cormie) - and one older boy who acts as the big brother of the younger three. He is Maps, played by Radcliffe. The story is told by Misty as an adult and contains many, probably mis-remembered, events of that eventful vacation.
The boys are hosted by an older couple with the man being played by Jack Thompson as Bandy. This is a bare-bones part, and Thompson's considerable talents are wasted. Bandy's wife is ill with cancer, and there are some interesting scenes of interactions with the boys but the couple plays a very small role in the whole thing.
The vacation cabin is in a small cove accompanied by several others, and the inhabitants of these neighboring cabins provide a number of interesting characters. The most interesting to the boys is a young, childless couple. They are seen as potential parents by the boys, and the three younger ones compete in a battle for their attention - led by Misty.
Maps is far more interested in a local teenage girl with whom he develops an intimate relationship. Because Radcliffe became famous as Harry Potter, Russell Edwards of Variety sarcastically states, "Destined to be forever known as Harry Potter Gets Laid…," but I saw much more in Radcliffe's portrayal of a teenager's first love. His performance is richly affecting.
December Boys is an entertaining combination of the vacation adventures and fantasies of four boys coupled with that longing purity of first love. It's not a great movie, but it gives the viewer a good feeling and gives this viewer some memories and emotions of times long passed.
December 24, 2007