What is green, brown and loves Michael Jackson? BOY — a movie written and directed by Taika Waititi. You want to know more, right? Boy is set in 1984 rural New Zealand with all of the popular culture markers of the 1980s, in particular Michael Jackson. Boy is the main character who loves Michael Jackson, crushes on an older girl at school and fantasizes about the kind of man his father is. Early in the film, Boy’s father, Alamein (played by Waititi) returns home causing the bonding and hijinks to ensue. Boy is a movie that resists the violent Maori urban stereotypes in Once Were Warriors and the tragi-romantic cultural narrative of Whale Rider — two recent films featuring New Zealand Maori. Instead, what we are left with is a fine film highlighting a boy’s coming of age and definition of self in relation to his father . . . and Michael Jackson.
Did I love the movie? Wholeheartedly, yes. The film is alternately hilarious, deeply touching and visually gorgeous. The child actors who play Boy, his brother Rocky, the cousins and school mates are a joy to watch. Waititi as Alamein is a character we both love and hate is perfectly flawed and human. While the film carries the NS rating, some parents may not want to take their kids to the movie due to some language and brief drug use. Otherwise it is worth going to see, especially if you like to laugh and appreciate the popular culture icons of the 80s (not just Michael Jackson).
Boy opened on Friday, April 27 in Honolulu and will be playing at several venues across the nation. I attended a pre-screening of the film and got to sit in on the Q & A with Taika Waititi afterwards. Boy is the highest grossing New Zealand made (as in funded) film ever in NZ and is being released in the U.S. to the success of the Kickstarter campaign to fund the American release this year of the film. Do yourself a favor and go see Boy if you can.