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New Zealand theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Taika Waititi|
|Produced by||Cliff Curtis|
|Written by||Taika Waititi|
|Music by||The Phoenix Foundation|
|Edited by||Chris Plummer|
|Distributed by||Transmission Films|
|Box office||$8.6 million|
Boy is a 2010 New Zealand coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Taika Waititi. The film stars James Rolleston, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu, and Waititi. It is produced by Cliff Curtis, Ainsley Gardiner and Emanuel Michael and financed by the New Zealand Film Commission. In New Zealand, the film eclipsed previous records for a first week's box office takings for a local production. Boy went on to become the highest grossing New Zealand film at the local box office. The soundtrack to Boy features New Zealand artists such as The Phoenix Foundation, who previously provided music for Waititi's film Eagle vs Shark.
The year is 1984. Alamein, known as Boy, is an 11-year-old boy living in Waihau Bay, in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand, on a small farm with his grandmother, younger brother Rocky, and several cousins. Boy spends his time dreaming of Michael Jackson, hanging out with his friends Dallas and Dynasty, trying to impress Chardonnay, a girl at his school, talking to his pet goat, and making up wild stories about his estranged father, Alamein. Rocky, meanwhile, is a quiet, odd child, who believes he has dangerous superpowers because his mother died giving birth to him. One day, Boy and Rocky's grandmother leaves for a funeral in Wellington, leaving Boy in charge of the house and taking care of the other children. Boy is then surprised to see his father and two other men arrive at the farm.
Boy is overjoyed to see Alamein return, thinking that he has come to take the boys away to live with him, but Rocky is uncertain about their father's sudden reappearance. It seems at first that Alamein has finally come back to be in his sons' lives, but it's soon revealed that he is actually there to find a bag of money that he had buried on the farm before being arrested by the police. With his patched gang, the Crazy Horses (which is just him and two friends,) Alamein begins digging up the field, searching for the money. Boy sees this and offers to help, thinking Alamein is digging for treasure, and Alamein soon decides to hang out with Boy and be a father. He cuts his son's hair to look like Michael Jackson, and the two go on drives in Alamein's car and get revenge on Boy's school bullies. Boy brings Alamein marijuana to sell from a crop grown by Dallas and Dynasty's father, a member of a local gang. Alamein, uncomfortable with being called 'Dad,' convinces Boy to call him Shogun instead.
Boy begins to see himself as an adult and a Crazy Horse, growing distant from his friends. However, Alamein, unable to find the money, becomes frustrated and drives off, leaving Boy behind. Boy continues to dig for the money alone, until he finally discovers it. Excited, Boy hides the moneybag in his goat's pen, then takes his father's Crazy Horses jacket and proudly treats his friends to ice blocks and lollies. When Alamein drives up, Boy goes to tell him that he has found the money, but Alamein hits Boy for stealing his jacket and angrily questions him about where he found the money for the ice blocks, leaving Boy humiliated. Alamein later apologizes, telling his son for the first time that he loves him, and Boy goes to retrieve the moneybag; only to find that it has been eaten by his goat.
Alamein and Rocky continue to dig for the hidden money, making Boy uneasy. Boy decides to make up for losing the money by leading Alamein to the marijuana crop owned by Dallas and Dynasty's father, and Alamein gathers the entire crop. The group are spotted running away by Dynasty, who stares at Boy, betrayed. Later, Alamein takes his gang out to celebrate. Whilst waiting in the car with Boy, Rocky tells his brother that he likes their father, and wants to get to know him better. Another car then drives up, and the local gang gets out. Boy sees Dynasty sitting in the front seat with a black eye. The gang approaches Alamein and the Crazy Horses, confronting them over stealing their marijuana. At first, Boy imagines his dad successfully fighting off the gang in a Michael Jackson dance sequence, but reality comes back to him, and he sees the gang beat Alamein. While driving home, Alamein accidentally hits and kills Boy's goat.
The next day, Alamein is abandoned by his men, who steal the marijuana and the car. Boy visits his mother's grave, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and finally comes to terms with the fact that all of his happy, early memories of his father are make-believe, and Alamein was in fact not even there when Rocky was born. Meanwhile, Alamein sits in the barn, depressed that he has been unable to find his money. Rocky comes up to him and attempts to comfort him with his 'powers,' telling Alamein that he is sorry he killed his mother by being born. Just then, Boy comes in and scatters the shredded money at Alamein's feet, then begins hitting his father, screaming to know why he wasn't there when Boy and Rocky's mother died. Boy tells Alamein that they are nothing alike, then returns to the house to take care of his cousins. The next morning, Boy and Rocky's grandmother returns home, and Alamein is gone.
Boy tells Rocky that Alamein has gone to Japan to train as a samurai. He reconnects with his friends and apologizes to Dynasty, then goes with Rocky to visit their mother's grave. The two boys find Alamein sitting there. Quietly, they join him, before Rocky asks, "How was Japan?"
Waititi started developing Boy soon after finishing the short film Two Cars, One Night; and it first emerged as a film called Choice. The project was accepted into the Sundance Writer's Lab in 2005, where Waititi workshopped it with script writers Frank Pierson, Susan Shilliday, David Benioff and Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal. Instead of making Boy his first film as a director, Waititi went on to make oddball romance Eagle vs Shark, and continued to develop the screenplay over the next three years.
When the script was finally ready there was a small window of opportunity in which to make it. Waititi dropped the title Choice because he felt it would not translate to international audiences, and the film was retitled The Volcano. "It was a big pain about this kid’s potential to be bigger than he is or just bloom or explode," said Waititi. "So it was a character in the script as well. When we were shooting the film it was still called Volcano and during the editing. We ended up cutting a lot of the stuff out."
Waititi wanted to shoot the film in the place where he partly grew up, Waihau Bay. The story was set in summer, but it was challenging to shoot in the height of summer due to the area's popularity as a fishing and holiday destination. The film features the maize fields and the maize is harvested from late April. James Rolleston was not initially cast as the lead role of Boy. Another actor was already in place when Rolleston turned up for a costume fitting as an extra. Waititi gave him an audition and after reviewing the film clips, Rolleston was offered the role two days before shooting began.
|Soundtrack album by The Phoenix Foundation|
|Label||The Volcano Company Ltd and Franklin Rd|
|The Phoenix Foundation film scores chronology|
Boy premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival on 22 January 2010 and competed in the "World Cinema – Dramatic" category. Boy was theatrically released on March 25, 2010 in New Zealand. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2011 by Paramount Home Media Distribution.
Based on 65 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 87%, with an average score of 7.3/10 . Peter Calder of The New Zealand Herald gave the film five out of five stars. He praised the performances by the three main actors and said "it's hard to praise too highly the pitch-perfect tone of this movie."
On release in New Zealand the film topped the box office receipts for the week, earning more on its opening day than any previous New Zealand film. The film grossed nearly $900,000 in its first seven days, beating Alice in Wonderland and homegrown pictures Whale Rider and The World's Fastest Indian. It also climbed above international animated-fantasy hit How to Train Your Dragon and mythical action flick Clash of the Titans. Boy then went on to become the highest grossing New Zealand film to date on its own soil, taking over The World's Fastest Indian which had held the position for five years.