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Boys Starring Winona Ryder and Lukas Haas
Starring Winona Ryder and Lukas Haas
As always, Cranky makes no comparison between the finished movie and the source material it is based on, which in this case is an 8-page short story.
I'd also like to say that, when all is said and done, I happen to like Winona Ryder. Which makes Boys all the more disappointing.
Ryder is horribly miscast as Patty Vare, the "older woman" in a relationship where John Baker Jr. (Lukas Haas) is cast as an 18-year old. Here's the problem. Ryder looks a lot younger than 25. Haas looks a lot older than 18. Visually, it's a bad fit.
The story is a promising one, I guess, on paper. This older woman is thrown from a horse and knocked unconscious. She is found by a young private schooler, who runs for an older kid (Haas). Haas steals a school car and, swept away by her beauty (and request not to see a doctor), moves the woman into his private schoolroom.
Let's forget the fact that anyone with a shred of common sense, let alone first aid training, would have immediately called for an ambulance, regardless of what the woman said. Moving the body is not an intelligent move. But, as seen in the set design, Haas' character ain't that intelligent. Why else would copies of X-Men Adventures, a comic book written for 8-year-olds, be prominently featured in his room? Cranky notices these things.
Okay, so the kid is hiding a woman in a boys school. Word gets around. Everyone wants to see. So she's got to be smuggled out...
The in-school-hide-and-seek are about the only bits worth watching. Nor does it hurt that all the characters talk in a surfer dude accent when the school is located in Maryland. It is amusing, but from there you, the audience, will be subjected to the principals in a car. During this car ride there will be a long conversation, with even longer pauses, in which the "relationship" develops. But the script, also by director Stacy Cochran, forces the actors to speak dialogue that doesn't sound real. It forces the actors to take pauses which are unnatural. Haas is given more to do than Ryder, and he does it well. But Ryder is forced to work her tail off because there is nothing in her dialogue that gives her anything to build a character off of.
The reason for this is some kind of mystery that unfurls throughout the film. The set up for this mystery is so clumsily delivered ("How could you have cut your head when you fell on your back?" says Haas, not knowing how she fell.) The initial flashback comes out of nowhere and has no meaning. The ones that follow build a back story that you just don't care about, because it has very little connection to what is happening on screen, i.e.: Nothing the characters see triggers the flashbacks.
To be fair, there is a cop, investigating a car theft, who suspects Ryder of knowing more than she tells. But the pacing of this movie is so bad that when said cop sees said suspect at a county fair and decides to keep an eye on her, he vanishes from the picture. He reappears when a significant amount of screen time has passed, not following Ryder at all. Blame the director.
I am sorely tempted to violate my policy by giving away the entire story, like most every other "critic," but I won't. If you are as big a fan of Ryder as I am, you will be sorely disappointed if you waste your money here.
In summary: The scenery is lovely. (That's a direct quote from one of the Crankified.)
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Boys, he would have paid . . .
If I had walked in with great expectations I would have given it a zero. But I save that for movies that promote themselves as something other than what they deliver. Boys is not guilty of that. Even Winona Ryder, the star, went on record saying it was terrible. Winona didn't lie.
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