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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

December Boys (review)

This pleasant coming-of-age tale is mostly notable for one of its young stars: Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Fans and industry watchers who wonder whether Radcliffe has what it takes to turn his increasingly sophisticated performances in the fantasy series into a full-blown adult career as an actor (and who didn’t spring for a trip to London to see him in the recent production of Equus he appeared in) can see for themselves: the kid’s got talent, and as he breezes through this eminently watchable flick, he never once makes you think of the boy wizard. He’s got the toughest role, too, as the eldest of four orphaned lads in the Australian Outback in the late 1960s who get a treat: a Christmas-vacation trip to the seaside to celebrate their joint birthdays, which all fall in the same month. (Yup, it’s Christmas on the beach: remember, the seasons are reversed Down Under.) Radcliffe’s Maps is on the far edge of adolescence, easily acknowledging that he’ll never be adopted and ready to move on to exploring grownup things, like sex — pretty Lucy (Teresa Palmer), who lives down the beach, just might be accommodating… Meanwhile, the younger boys have somehow got it into their head that the childless couple next door is getting ready to adopt one of them. Director Rod Hardy (Burn Notice) captures, through his appealing young cast, the bittersweet yearning of youth for something more than the limits of childhood, and if this is familiar ground we’ve been over many times before, well, it’s still a nice ramble. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexual content, nudity, underage drinking and smoking

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb

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