It’s hard to really categorize “The Boys Are Back.” It’s not really a family movie, nor is it romance or action or humor. I guess you’d call it a drama about a guy learning how to be a dad.
The tagline on the DVD cover calls it “A funny, touching and vital film.” Yeah, I’d go along with that, though it doesn’t seem all that funny to me.
It takes place in Australia and follows the life of a sports writer named Joe (Clive Owen) whose wife Katy (Laura Fraser) dies of cancer, leaving him to raise their young son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty). He also has an older teenager named Harry (George MacKay) from a previous marriage, who comes to live with them, as well.
The movie is a bit scattered in terms of story. You’ve got the wife who shows up as a vision of Joe’s – she tries to help him learn how to be a dad. You’ve got Artie, who’s quite a handful, and Harry, who is resentful that his dad took off and left him with his mom in England.
First of all, I love the Australian scenery. Joe lives in this cottage-type house that’s near both the sea and open lands full of waving grass. Really beautiful.
All of the actors are on target as far as their characters; none of them are pigeonholed into any sort of stereotype.
One thing that bugs me about these types of movies is that the mom always dies. My 12-year-old daughter and I watched this and within the first 30 seconds, we looked at each and said, “The mom’s gonna die.” It’s so predictable; and yes, I know it’s based on a true story, so there’s no changing the fact that the mom dies.
But it’s worth a look if you like these sorts of introspective dramas. And Clive Owen is wonderful. It’s directed by Scott Hicks and rated PG-13 for some sexual language and thematic elements.