REVIEW: The Boys Are Back

25 07 2010

I saw “The Boys Are Back” a few months ago, and I remember as much about it now as I did the day after I saw it.  If that doesn’t speak volumes about this ultimately forgettable movie, I don’t know what does.

The plot revolves around a widower played by Clive Owen who takes on an interesting parenting philosophy: no rules.  As a sports journalist, he traveled quite a bit and never really had much practical parenting experience.  So his strategy gets a serious test, particularly when he invites his son from a prior marriage to come live with him in Australia.  This proves to be just enough to keep us from counting down the minutes until the movie is over but not enough to fully engage.

Really, the movie’s only talking point is Clive Owen.  He’s a fantastic actor who has given some riveting performances, particularly in “Children of Men” and “Closer.”  Owen won a Golden Globe and received an Oscar nomination for the latter, and I think it’s just a matter of time before he nets the industry’s most coveted prize.  He gives a respectable performance here, showing a tender side he usually hides.  The previously mentioned roles were both hardened, gruff characters that Owen nailed with a stone-faced tenacity.

He’s not bad at the lighter fluff, but he needs to get back to his comfort zone to further elevate his status.  It’s pretty obvious that “The Boys Are Back” is a half-hearted attempt at awards bait.   You would think it’s the kind of role that might garner some serious attention and then laurels.  But the movie isn’t flashy in the slightest, and Owen has practically no opportunities to show what a talented actor he is.  So for now, we can dream about the day that Owen sinks his teeth into the career-defining role.  Until then, we’re stuck with this.  B- /