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Wick's Review

Created Aug 13, 2014 10:50PM PST • Edited Dec 17, 2014 09:35AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Boyhood is the first Great American Movie of 2014. It profiles the emergence of a slacker, delivered as the insightful backstory of an aimless guy who ends up haunting the streets of Austin. Through that Texan lens, the great Richard Linklater has created a transcendent portrait of 21st century America – Obama’s America.

    First, the facts: Boyhood is a fictional drama featuring the same core actors all the way through – 12 years. Patricia Arquette & Ethan Hawke clearly aged over the dozen years they took to shoot it, but Ellar Coltrane literally grew up while playing their son, in 1st Grade when they shot the first scene and 12th at the end, a High School graduate ready to head off to College. So it’s a normal movie, with a 12 year gestation period.

    What’s not normal is that scenes follow the kids, when grownup movies normally follow the grownups. Boyhood follows a boy, his older sister and their indomitable Mom. Dad drops by when it suits him, not ready to be a true Dad when his boy & girl need him. Thus it’s Familyhood through the eyes of the kids.

    Linklater family dynamics occurred offscreen as well. Papa Rick decided to make a movie about a boy his daughter’s age when she wasn’t even ten. Then she demanded a part in the movie. That’s how Lorelei Linklater became Samantha, big sister to Ellar Coltrane’s Mason. She’s terrific, as a girl & a young woman.

    The script is partly improvised based on how Ellar Coltrane developed, with his Mason ending up a super-chill Holden Caulfield: a hard drinker by high school, underachieving, passive, phlegmatic. His Dad – like every man his Mom attracts – is Texas aggressive, a mismatch that’s brilliantly rendered.

    Boyhood – clearly the Best Picture of 2014 so far – becomes the jewel in Richard Linklater’s crown.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Ellar Coltrane is two years older than Mason, the boy he plays. Thus he aged from 7 to 19 over the course of production, growing from a button-nose tyke to an amiable and sensitive slacker. Remarkable.

    Lorelei Linklater slays as his big sister Samantha, who also grew from kiddo to college age over the course of production. Her tweenie rendition of Oops!… I Did It Again is a time capsule moment full of meaning.

    Patricia Arquette, as their very attractive Mom, is not too smart, but smarter than most. She plays a brave woman who is never less than committed to her children’s welfare.

    Ethan Hawke plays their Peter Pan of a Dad, more a buddy than a true Father. A Linklater regular, Hawke was informed in ’02 that he was to finish the film if the boss died during the next dozen years.

    Huge Supporting Cast
    • Marco Perella as a Professor who becomes Husband #2
    • Jamie Howard & Andrew Villarreal as his kids, who become step-siblings to Sam & Mason
    • Brad Hawkins as an Army veteran who becomes Husband #3
    • Jenni Tooley as another step-parent
    • Richard Andrew Jones as her old-school but loving father, Grandpa Cliff
    • Bonnie Cross as one of many teachers who tried to help out Mason
    • Zoe Graham as Sheena, Mason’s high school girlfriend
    • Roger Clemens is seen pitching a dominating game for the Houston Astros during an outing with the Peter Pan Dad. What luck.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Richard Linklater’s magnum opus is a family-values film, 21st Century style. It starts pre-iPod and ends well into Facebook. This strictly chronological film closely observes the small & large moments of a modern family, in which the only consistent parent is the Mom. She’s hot, so attracts a series of husbands.

    It’s basically a grounded and contemporary Tree of Life, Texas setting and all, notwithstanding its lack of film school affectation. Even more, it is Linklater’s Texan childhood masterpiece, a late career precursor to Dazed and Confused, Slacker and even Bernie. That said, it is action packed compared to Slacker.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    The screenplay is full of eye-opening moments, yet never reaches for the spectacular. For instance, Mason is lucky enough to have a succession of male authority figures try to set him straight, each initially appearing like a jerk to his adolescent eyes, and then revealing themselves as caring guys.

    This being a Richard Linklater film, you know the boy will end up in Austin, which gets mentioned early on as the boy grows up in a series of Texas towns from where Austin is but a dream.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.2

    Drunk Dads at the dinner table can be plenty scary.

  15. Sex Titillating 2.0
  16. Violence Fierce 1.9
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.6
  18. Natural 1.0

    Totally natural fictional movies are nearly as rare as Halley’s Comet, at least good ones, let alone extraordinarily good ones. I have to go back to Mountains on the Moon.

    Thus Boyhood is a treasure trove of contemporary sociological observations.

    • The boy is raised by 21st Century Democrats: a single Mom who becomes a psych professor, and a rabidly anti-Republican Dad. Neither has a clue about how the economy works. Childhood memories include posting Obama `08 yard signs, and stealing McCain ones along the way.
    • It presents an unvarnished view of American adolescence, much of it crude, rude and socially unacceptable. Boys graduate from ogling lingerie catalogs to bragging about imagined conquests.
    • Psych professors are portrayed as equally clueless about their own psychological lives as laymen. Yep, that conforms with my own limited experience.
  19. Circumstantial Natural 1.0
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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