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The Boys Are Back (DVD)

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5 Reviews

Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Scott Hicks / Actors: Emma Booth, Clive Owen, Laura Fraser, George MacKay, Nicholas McAnulty ... / DVD released 2010-05-17 at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainm / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    5 Reviews
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      05.07.2012 14:35
      Very helpful



      brilliant - watch it!

      The death of Arty's mother and Joe's wife sparks a turbulent family situation for the boys. Left alone in a large Australian house to look after themselves, with Joe a busy sports journalist and Arty a precocious 5 year old, Harry comes to stay, Joe's son from a previous marriage, who has never visited him in Australia in all the time he has been there.

      I found this film a touching account of family relationships, exploring the ins and outs of love and hatred.
      I wouldn't say that the storyline is packed with action, rather that the directing of the film is creative and absolutely stunning. I was gripped by this film because of how the director put it together, it has just the right amount of pace at times when it is needed, and events unfold very quickly and then slow down very quickly. One of the bad points is perhaps that we are expected to presume that Arty and Joe fly over to England near the end of the film to visit, rather than being shown planes taking off or something to indicate this!

      I thought that camera angles and perspective were spot on, I'm no film critic, but from this film I got a lot because of the artistic way in which the story was told.

      I literally couldn't stop watching this film, it did make me cry in places, and I felt myself relating to the characters emotionally even though I haven't personally experienced a close family bereavement.
      I think the story has sharp doses of reality in it and is not simply an over dramatized account of a life, but really focusses on all the small parts of family life, which gives it that taste of being able to relate to all the characters.

      The fact is that tragedies like this can happen to anyone, and this film brings it home how it would affect a family which made it an emotional ride from the viewers perspective!

      The film asks questions from Harry's point of view, the older child who is left in England by his dad at a young age as his dad has a new baby (Arty) with an Australian girl and asks questions from Arty's childlike point of view as he struggles to come to terms with his moms death. Then the main character Joe is seen as a very flawed character, leaving the boys home alone for a night, having left Harry in England and we watch his emotional rollercoaster throughout.


      I wouldn't say it was flawless acting, but the actors were convincing. The children did not seem like false child actors but very genuine, particularly Arty as the little boy, and Harry made a good angsty teenager.

      --Value for money--

      The film is on iplayer currently which is where I saw it, but the current price quoted on Amazon is about £5, which I would say is good value for money, provided you are a fan of a sentimental film.


      I enjoyed the sound track, and found it complimented the film well, notably featuring tracks by Sigur Ros.

      In summary, this film is highly recommended for those of you who enjoy a thoughtful film, not a Hollywood drama, with quality acting and thoughtful directing. Five stars from me, I enjoyed this film a lot.


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      01.05.2012 09:03
      Very helpful
      1 Comment



      A father struggles to cope after the death of his wife and learns all about how to be a parent.

      The Boys Are Back

      Released in 2009 as an English and Australian joint production by Hanway Films, The BBC, AFFC, Screen Australia and Tiger Aspect.

      Distribution by Miramax

      Film and DVD review

      The Premise

      Clive Owen plays Joe Warr, a sports journalist who lives in Australia with his wife Katy and their young son Arthur, who everyone knows as Artie.

      Katy (played by Laura Fraser) is taken ill with terminal cancer and Joe nurses her through the bad times, faced by the prospect of being a single father. It is Joe's second marriage and he also has a teenage son, Harry, back in England.

      The inevitable finally happens and Katy passes away. Artie is struggling to come to terms with his mother's death and Joe embarks on a mission, against Katy's mother's wishes, to take Joe away for a while on a road trip. Things don't work out so well and what follows is a man's struggle to bring up his tormented young son without the influence of his charismatic and strong wife.

      Joe wants to be a proper father and not just one who sees his son after work at his in-laws house.

      Meanwhile, Joe's other son has questions that he needs answering and asks if he can come to Australia. Joe meets him at the airport with Artie and another cycle of the story begins.

      Not only is Joe dealing with grief, but his younger son is a handful to say the least and his teenage son, Harry wants to know why he left him when he was six years old.

      Artie becomes attached to Harry and everything is looking rosy but Joe is finding it hard to keep up his work commitments. His boss tells him that he needs him to cover the Australian open tennis tournament and needs him to be at every game on centre court. Joe basically lies to his manager and writes the reports by watching the matches on TV. Then he gets a call that his boss will be at the final.

      Joe can't find a baby sitter and is reluctant to ask his mother-in-law again after a fall out when asking the first time. He makes the ill-fated decision of leaving Harry in charge of Artie after Harry promises that he can do it.

      A huge group of teenagers, older than Harry, cotton on to the fact that he is home alone with Artie. This can only mean one thing in their eyes....party!

      Joe meanwhile has a confrontation in a bar and loses his mobile phone.

      Not being able to get in touch with his father, Harry is frightened and hides in the house with Artie while the youths wreck the joint and smoke it as well. Artie finally gets his grandmother on the phone and her husband takes a frightened and demoralised Harry to the airport and he flies back to the UK.

      Joe returns from the tennis tournament and is shocked at the state of the house. He finds Artie at his in-laws place. He calls Harry but gets an earful from his ex-wife saying that Harry does not want to speak to him ever again.

      Joe and Artie fly to England in an effort to make it up with Harry. Will he speak to Joe? A clearing of the air is needed but Harry does not want to see his father. I'll leave the storyline here so you can see what the outcome is for yourself.

      The Cast and Crew

      The Director - Scott Hicks

      Scott Hicks is most famously known, especially in Australia, for his brilliant screenplay on the movie 'Shine', starring the brilliant Geoffrey Rush. He lives in Australia but originally moved there from Uganda as a fourteen year old. I personally know him through being a Stephen King fan, as he directed the movie 'Hearts In Atlantis', which is based on King's book by the same name and stars Anthony Hopkins.

      His work on this movie is to be applauded. It is a beautifully made film and some of the locations are absolutely stunning. His collaboration with cinematographer, Greg Fraser, makes for a backdrop of mystical sun sets and glorious sun rises, not to mention the mountains and deserts with their sweeping landscapes.

      The movie flows along nicely and although primarily a dialogue based movie there are a lot of clever shots. In one scene Artie is looking out of the car window with swimming goggles on and the shot is filmed as if from Artie's point of view, with a border around the screen, which is meant to be the goggles. It is filmed so well you would also have to imagine whether Hicks fitted a small camera inside the goggles.

      The camera moves well between characters and it is obvious from the performances that Hicks knows what he wants from his actors and some of the scenes are quite intense.

      Clive Owen as Joe Warr

      Clive Owen has slowly crept up my list of actors who can act over the last decade and has matured into a fine thespian with a strong screen presence. He is another actor that plays normal so well. As with his role in 'Closer', you can feel his pain and his awkwardness with his situation. Owen has one of those faces that you find easy to read and he wears the different emotions so well.

      He plays Joe Warr extremely well and you really do feel for the character, even though he makes some pretty stupid decisions. You know that his heart is in the right place and you find yourself on his side. A great performance from this likeable English actor.

      Nicolas McAnulty as Artie

      The casting director on this movie was Nikki Barrett and one of her hardest parts of the job was to find a young child actor to play Artie, Joe's younger son. They saw over eight hundred children at auditions and when Nicolas turned up he was like a breath of fresh air. They had to find him at audition time as he was caught up in chatting to so many people. On meeting the movie's director, Scott Hicks, Nicolas sat down beside him and chatted away as if he had known him for years. Barrett had no problem in convincing Hicks that the young boy was right for the role.

      Nicolas McAnulty plays Artie without fear and is so brilliant in the part that you don't really think of it as acting, which is a great testament to the child's upbringing and his parents should be commended.

      The beginning of the movie must have been difficult for him as it is a beginning of tragedy and despair.

      Portraying a little boy who has just lost his mother but doesn't really understand would be difficult for any child actor but for one so young, little Nicolas does a gem of a job.

      Clive Owen really took to McAnulty and has been quoted as saying that he was petrified of working in a movie with kids but the six year old McNulty was a joy to work with and he ended up learning a lot about himself.

      George MacKay as Harry

      MacKay is a likeable young chap who starred in this movie as a seventeen year old. The first thing that struck me about him was the fact that I was sure his surname would turn out to be 'Grint'. He looks like the younger brother of Rupert Grint, who is famous for his role as 'Ron' in the 'Harry Potter' movies. I was quite disappointed when I found out his name as I was convinced.

      He plays the role of Harry really well and some of the scenes with Clive Owen are really well acted and you can see that he will have a bright future ahead of him.

      He starts out in the role as a sullen teenager who is unsure of the laid back lifestyle of a father who left him and his new young brother. He slowly starts to warm to them and you really want it to work out for him.

      I'm positive that we will see more of this young chap, who is now twenty years old. He did star alongside Daniel Craig in 'Defiance' a year before making this movie and has since moved on to star in 'Hunky Dory', the musical movie, with Minnie Driver.

      The DVD

      The DVD extras contain a short documentary 'A Father on Set with his two Sons', which contains interviews and clips from the movie. There is also a section of photographs which show the story of the movie in pictures.

      The movie is one hundred minutes long and my region 2 Dutch copy, which is ex-rental, contains subtitles for the English, French and Dutch.

      I rented the Blu Ray version of the movie and the quality is exceptionally good. The only disappointing factor was the extras. I was expecting some great interviews and more documentaries with behind the scenes stuff and maybe a commentary. Nothing of the sort was contained on the Blu Ray version and in fact the documentary from the standard region two DVD was ommited. you just get the photographs and a few deleted scenes.

      My Thoughts

      I thought this was a charming little movie. It's a movie for a rainy Sunday afternoon (although I watched it on a Saturday afternoon). It is an easy film to watch and there are some good performances throughout.

      There are some funny moments and some really sad moments. It shows you just how difficult life can be because of unforeseen events and how a person's world can be turned upside down in an instant.

      I really liked Clive Owen in this movie and the two kids, McAnulty and MacKay, were absolutely superb. Some of the moments with Clive Owen on his own are really poignant as he still sees and talks to his dead wife. That may come over as really morbid but it is done in a nice way. hH asks her about decisions he should make regarding Artie. It is quite touching in places.

      As far as the story or script goes, it works and is probably reminiscent of thousands of similar real life stories all over the world, so many single fathers will be able to relate to this as will many young boys who find themselves in a single-parent family.

      I would recommend this for people who like to relax and watch a story unfold of its own accord and not stem from a contrived or convoluted plot or implode on itself due to needless action scenes to justify its own hype.

      A family about normal people leading a normal life until everything is knocked on its head.

      Not a fantastic movie but certainly one to watch and could be a little gem of a movie for some.

      © Lee Billingham


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      • More +
        24.02.2011 19:27
        Very helpful
        1 Comment



        I want to be 007!

        Star - Clive Owen
        Certificate -12a
        RuN-TiMe -104 Minutes
        Genre - Drama

        So, when Clive Owen didn't get handed the Walter PPK and sacred tux that he and most Bond fans thought he would fit perfectly then where now for one of our most dishevelled actors, looking completely lost without that big job these days. Well the answer is I don't think anyone knows, especially Owen, a jobbing actor taking all manner of gigs and scripts to pay the mortgage. The boy from Coventry could be a huge star if he decided what type of actor he wants to be but behaves like one of those solid professional golfers or tennis pros that feel they will never win the slams or the majors and so don't push for them, quite happy to sit 15th on the money list for a very nice life thank you very much. Owen may well get the beautiful Aston Martin when the excellent Daniel Craig has had enough but until then he needs to make his mark, films like The Boys are Back not really doing it. For me he is in flux, accepting the unintentional hero roles since the King Arthur flop with films like The International and Closer so not to damage his Bond chances by playing too many baddies. 'Shoot em Up', his spoof Bond movie, remains my favourite piece of his work.

        -The Cast-

        Clive Owen ... Joe Warr
        Emma Booth ... Laura
        Laura Fraser ... Katy
        George MacKay ... Harry
        Nicholas McAnulty ... Artie
        Julia Blake ... Barbara
        Chris Haywood ... Tom
        Erik Thomson ... Digby

        -The Plot-

        Through flashback we learn that Sydney Herald sportswriter Joe Warr (Clive Owen) has recently lost his young wife (Laura Fraser), his increased fathering duties and finding time to deal with grief leaving little to be desired, the film opening with his young son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty) sitting precariously on the bonnet of his dads 'yute'(utility four-wheel drive vehicle) as they race along an Adelaide beach.

        The Brit abroad is not dealing with his wife Katy's loss and has taken time out from work to decide how he is going to go about bringing up his boy, so far not exactly a conventional approach deployed. The situation is complicated because he has an older son by his first marriage living back in England, 15-year-old Harry (George MacKay), invited out to spend time with his dad in the summer holidays to help him cope, which Harry begrudgingly accepts.

        As Harry bonds with Artie, Joe's fathering methods get increasingly chaotic, basically deciding to let the boys do what they want, Joe convincing himself it's some sort of revolutionary parenting skills he is invented here, his mother-in-law Barbara (Julia Blake) somewhat disapproving. His method is based on the cod theory that the more rules there are then the more crimes are committed and so if we want to cut crime then cut the rules.

        Harry was originally not invited out to Australia by Joe when he left for England so this a chance for the two to finally bond and build bridges, the two boys testing Joes parenting philosophy to the max, and soon getting into all manner of scrapes, wearing crash helmets on pushbikes and climbing tall trees without supervision not a problem, Joe regularly ticked off by his wife who appears in visions throughout the movie.

        Divorced 'yummy mummy' Laura (Emma Booth) is a potential love interest but Joe soon using her as cheap childcare when he has to return to work to cover the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne. But when the cats away the mice will play and the question now is will the boys behave while dad is away or is dad actually ready to be away from his kids, the job that broke up his first marriage building a bond with his new life.

        -The Conclusion-

        I like Clive Owen and watch all of his movies, and although very handsome he does feel like one of use somehow, that everyman appeal of the guy you used to work with but made it big. The Boys are Back is sensitive new man Owen and he enjoys the chance to show that side, as I said before a malleable actor who will take on pretty much any role. It's laced with humour and pathos but more importantly it's not too pretentious and worthy, considering the subject matter of grief and male responsibilities, the Australian flavour to it making it a more enjoyable experience. I really do feel he captures the true essence of the relationship between father and son when mum is no longer around.

        If you warm to Owen then you will warm to this, his cod psychology to life and rearing kids extremely appealing. It has its intelligent moments as well as the shake your head moments where you say: now that would never happen, especially when Owens character lets the kids slide down a wire from their treehouse, some thirty feet up. The film doesn't ask that many questions on the role of a single father left to bring up the kids and not a shameless tearjerker either, just a book that deserved to be made into a film. Although garnering brief awards season talk in late 2009 this didn't pull up any trees in the box-office, turning just three million dollars world-wide, which would be classed as a flop if it was an American made movie. It has that distinct feel of a directors baby, Scott Hicks of the Oscar winning 'Shine' and the evocatively titled 'Snow Falling on Cedars' the man behind the lens, two intelligent movies that seem to encapsulate the long haired hippy looking Hicks somewhat cosmopolitan upbringing to make these interesting films. Born in Uganda, Hicks family moved to Kenya when he was 10-years-old to escape the civil war and then briefly moved on to England to evade further African conflict there, before they settled on Australia when he was 14. He is now an accomplished photographer and runs a vineyard alongside his directing just outside of Adelaide. Sadly he doesn't make enough movies, a man that has a good eye for the alternate point of view.

        Imdb.com scores it 6.8/10 (3,524 votes)
        Metacritic.com - 57% approval rating by the critics (63% approval rating by users)
        Rottentomatos.com - 73% approval rating (57% approval rating by users)

        The Rio times - "The Boys Are Back is poignant in dealing with the stages of grief but lets up with a bit of fun. Scott Hicks really is back in town".

        The Seattle Bugle - "A deeply resonant film, driven by strong performances and displaying an open affection that is too rarely depicted between fathers and sons".

        The Independent - "Clive Owen turns a tear-jerker into a meditation on fatherhood in The Boys Are Back"

        The LA Times - "The plot is mundane and relatively dull... The result is an experience that's amiable but underwhelming".

        = = = = Special Features = = = =

        -A father and two sons-

        The real family the film is based on meet the cast on location.


        -The Making Of-

        = = = = = = = = =


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          05.06.2010 17:07
          Very helpful



          A sweet, well intended tale

          note: also appears on my film review site, TheFilmBlogger.com

          Joe (Clive Owen)'s wife dies from cancer, and he is left to tend for their odd young son, Artie (Nicholas McAnulty). A fairly trite flashback within the first few minutes paints a portrait of his departed wife, Katy (Laura Fraser), as a dedicated mother, helping her son to read. There's also plenty of middle-class whimsy, and indeed, The Boys Are Back, the latest film from acclaimed Shine director Scott Hicks, layers the sentiment on thick from the outset. However, it's redeemed largely by a rare prestige-pic foray by talented lead Clive Owen, who proves himself among the first-rate of British actors working today.

          There isn't a moment where this film doesn't belong to Owen, and it's clear from minute one that he is the buoyant force. If the overt sentiment is the adversity for mild prestige films like this, then Owen is the gallant hero smiting it down with a turn that is two parts suave, and three parts sympathy incarnate. The script, while platitude-infused, doesn't go totally wrong; it cements Joe's isolation, given the inability or simple disinclination for his son to truly come to terms with the death of his mother. The kid can't empathise with those horrifying nights that Joe cradled his dying wife in his arms as she took what might be her last breath (in the film's grimmest scene).

          Where the film goes wrong is with the family drama clichés; Artie acts out, but comes across more as annoying than in any way sympathetic, while Joe appears the saint even if his "just say yes" attitude to fill the void left by Katy is, of course, totally irresponsible. At times, this method is harmless, in allowing Artie to perform dive-bombs into the bathtub, but this also extends to allowing him to run riot with immature fits, and so Joe has to slowly learn how to balance fun with responsibility. Joe's development as a parent is spelled out all too easily, though, with Joe's wife popping into frame every so often to offer a bit of wisdom, lazily spelling out what a tighter script could have managed without such well-worn contrivances. It's not that The Boys Are Back doesn't hit any emotional notes, because it does, but Hicks plays so eagerly with your heart-strings, in filling the film with plenty of "poignant", dialogue-free, picturesque scenes backed by tender music, that the result is often more alienating than emotive.

          It isn't until close to the half-way mark that Joe's miserable son from his previous marriage, Harry (George MacKay), abounds, giving Joe the job of breaking the dull sad sack down over a few dramatic scenes, before leaving the two estranged step-brothers together to bond. While the aforementioned is all sappy operating procedure, the film earns a few points for not taking the incredibly obvious love interest route with Joe's recently single friend Laura (Emma Booth), who is herself a single parent. However, it sidesteps that cliché before tripping over another one, as some very flimsy friction between the two emerges, and the term "in a relationship" is thrown around out of nowhere. From that point, there's more familial tension as Harry has a plate-breaking episode in the film's most overwrought moment, causing the audience to view Owen's character as the poor sap who has to apologise for near enough doing nothing wrong.

          The bulk of the film's narrative consists of Joe's unruly kids doing progressively more stupid things, and a cheap melodramatic twist near the film's climax is especially cheeky, but The Boys Are Back may well be the most singularly potent examination of a single father since the 1979 masterpiece Kramer vs. Kramer. Owen's mesmerising performance brings soul to a film that concedes a lot through its predictability and occasionally overwrought tone.


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          12.03.2010 13:21
          Very helpful
          1 Comment



          You'll be happy to see the boys back!

          The Boys are Back is a family drama directed by Scott Hicks(who previously directed No Reservation) and stars Clive Owen,Emma Booth,Laura Fraser and a couple of talented kids.

          Clive Owen plays Joe,a sports writer who has recently lost his lovely wife Katy(played by Laura Fraser). Joe has to keep up with the responsibility of raising their only son Artie by himself,and then there is his other son from his first marriage who also comes to visit him.With all this,there's his professional life,and a lot of travelling which comes along with it.

          I'm quite impressed with the recent family dramas that are coming out of Hollywood.they seem to have found the emotional quotient connecting families. The basic plot gives the film-makers enough opportunity to make a fine film,and the opportunity is well used here-the writing weaves the characters beautifully,connects them at a human level and as an audience,you would become attached to them.The film does tend to be slightly predictable at times,but you realise it can't be too flamboyant in its storyline.

          Joe's character growing fondness for Laura,one of Artie's friends single mother is shown realistically,and actually adds a dimension to the film. The interior conflicts between characters works wonders for the film,and the film deepens as the film moves on. The onscreen chemistry between the characters(especially the father-son,sibling-sibling) is brought into the screen with much brilliance by the actors. Clive Owen impresses once again,he is one of the silent achievers of the film industry,giving us good films one after another.

          Boys are Back needs to be watched-primarily for the boys in it! It carries a lot of family values and is a beautiful film in itself.



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