New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi relaxes the quirk a tad after his first feature, “Eagle Vs. Shark,” (2007) the memorably eccentric comic love story that introduced Jemaine Clement, one half of “Flight of the Conchords” to the larger world. Waititi claims a mild strain of autobiography—”true and imagined memories”—in the 1980s-set coming-of-age story, “Boy,” (2010), based on his Oscar-nominated short, “Two Cars, One Night,” and which became his home country’s highest-grossing film. Waititi’s deadpan comedy about a Michael Jackson-and-E.T.-obsessed eleven-year-old boy, named “Boy,” in gorgeous rural Waihau Bay (ripe with the tall greenery of cannabis) isn’t as extravagantly strange as “Eagle Vs. Shark,” but his affable comic rhythms are his beguiling own. Plus a fistful of nutty comic images: “Fuck the World” cheerfully drawn from sparkler afterlight? “Thriller” recreated, Maori-style? A charming cast of bright, unpretentious kids keeps the quirk from growing too thick on the ground. With Waititi as Boy’s overbearing jailbird father, James Rolleston, Te Aho Eketone-Whitu, Moerangi Tihore, RickyLee Waipuka-Russell, Cherilee Martin. 87m. 35mm. (Ray Pride)
“Boy” opens Friday at Facets. The 2010 New Zealand trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.