Boys Are Back, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -3

Clive Owen, Laura Fraser, Emma Booth, George MacKay. Comedy/drama. Allan Written by Cubitt. Directed by Scott Hicks.

FILM SYNOPSIS: After the sudden death of his second wife, a grieving widower must contend with raising his little boy and an older son from a previous marriage.

PREVIEW REVIEW: The film is emblematic of the fact that like most Hollywood productions, it steers through the maze of loss, grief and reconstruction without a religious compass. At a time of a death in the family, most people search for some sort of spiritual fortitude. And those of us with a faith in Christís resurrection are comforted by the assurance that we will once again see our loved ones. This film avoids any such plausibility. The only religious reference is actually just the opposite Ė the profane use of Godís name. As the eldest boy moves in, he starts using curse words. The father tells him thereís no cursing in this house. For him (heís a writer) swearing reveals a limited vocabulary. The teen debates that assertion and continues to misuse language whenever frustration sets in. And it sets in a lot.

While the father is against obscenity, he evidently has no problem with profanity. Now, class, whatís the difference between obscenity and profanity? Obscenity is a swear word or indecent language. Profanity is the utterance of God followed by a curse, or the abusive use of Christís name. I know modern day dictionaries are more secular in their description of profanity, but in my class, thatís the definition weíll be using.

I didnít catch any disrespectful use of Godís name, but ďJesusĒ and ďChristĒ are voiced by both teen and parent often and never with a regard for who He is or what He did on our behalf. Because of this aversion the screenwriter has for spiritual matters, it was difficult for me to gain much insight from the production. While I am a fan of Clive Owen (still think he would have been a great James Bond), and there are some touching moments, with an uplifting ending, still for a person attempting to guide his life with biblical precepts, the production offers no true comfort and strength through times of crises.

I swear (a figure of speech), isnít there one single actor in Hollywood who wonít use Christís name as a mere expletive? I canít think of one.

DVD Alternatives: Ponette. French with subtitles. After the death of her mother, a child attempts to understand where her mother is and believes if she can get close enough to God, He will send the mother back. Sometimes difficult to view, as we are frustrated that we cannot relieve her sadness, but it is an insightful look at the world of children, and contains an uplifting ending. The performances of the three lead children make for great adult entertainment. Thereís a positive portrayal of a Christian woman who relates the story of Christ to this little one. Four-year-old Victoire Thivisol won the 1996 Venice Film Festival Best Actress that year. How they got such a dynamic, moving performance out of this cherub is beyond me, but even if she never does another thing, this little girl has greatly contributed to the world of art. Not rated (3 or 4 obscenities, but I caught no misuse of God's name; adult subject matter as the loss of a parent and subsequent unhappy searching for her mother may disturb children).

To Kill A Mockingbird. Gregory Peck. Horton Foote's winning screenplay of the Harper Lee novel about rural life, justice, honor and bigotry as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl. A beautifully photographed black-and-white movie with a haunting score by Elmer Bernstein. Peck was never better. Other Horton Foote screenplays paying tribute to old-fashioned ethics: Tender Mercies, The Trip To Bountiful.

Wide Awake. A young boy enters 5th grade at a Catholic school for boys while dealing with the death of his beloved grandfather. One of the most sensitive and entertaining movies I have seen in quite some time. It shows the lad searching for God so he can ask if his grandpa is OK. The film deals perceptibly with questions concerning death and our Creator. However, it is not a sermon. The writing is true to boyhood thoughts, mischief, and dialogue. It may be a little intense for very young ones who do not understand death, but questions such as the one our hero asks a troubled priest, "Do you ever feel like giving up?", will relate to older kids and adults alike. There's no crudity associated with this film as with most kids movies. The boy, terrifically played by young Joseph Cross, learns forgiveness, compassion and faith. And grandpa, played by a superb actor, Robert Loggia, stays true to the philosophy, "Hold on to your faith. Faith will get you through," even when he learns he is dying. PG (1 obscenity from the lead's best friend; 1 mild obscenity repeated over and over as the lead runs from a bully, but when he passes a cross with the suffering Christ on it, the boy apologizes; 1 expletive from the football coach; the boys innocently examine a magazine featuring a bikini-clad woman, but I did not feel this was exploitive and the picture is not predominantly shown to the audience - the youngsters are merely curious about the opposite sex; the best friend does not believe in God - until the end; deals poignantly with the loss of a grandparent).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A child utters a few crudities, most likely not knowing their meaning.

Obscene Language: A few uses of the s-word.

Profanity: Around eight misuses of Jesusí name.

Violence: A man is hit in the face while sitting in a bar; it breaks his nose. Blood: A bloody nose.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some social drinking, the lead drinks frequently, indicating he is using alcohol to numb his loss and frustration.

Other: None

Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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