Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Boys are Back

I can't--don't want to--imagine a life where I'm left to raise my kids on my own.  The real-life Simon Carr, fictionalized in The Boys are Back as Joe Warr, faced the loss of his wife to cancer when his son was just 6.  (The comments herein refer to the movie; I have not read Carr's book on which the movie is based.)  Warr, an Australian sports writer, has taken his free-wheeling life for granted.  The loss of his wife hits him hard.  Not only does he decide to raise his 6-year-old son on his own, his teenage son from his first marriage comes to live with them as well.  Clive Owen plays the dad.  His performance, as well as both boys, are terrific.
At first Warr tries to replicate the order with which his late wife ran the household.  He quickly realizes that rules and discipline look different in the new scheme of things; he adopts a free-wheeling "just say yes" child-rearing philosophy.  Things get crazy, nearly spinning out of control, but the three men learn to live together and figure out how to make it work.

There are some touching scenes.  When Warr's wife died in his arms I could hardly stand it.  This is one of those realistic movies that draws you in and makes you think, "What if that happened in my family.  There's plenty of good, guys-having-fun humor, too.  Parents who prefer discipline and order in the home should stay away.  I don't know about the overall parenting model here, but I do know this: most of the time, it's better to say, "Sure why not!"  Messes can be cleaned up, stuff can be repaired, but memories of childhood last forever.  Enjoy this touching movie about treasuring your spouse, enjoying your kids and living a full life.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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