Taika Waititi's second feature film (after Eagle vs. Shark and episodes of TV's Flight of the Conchords), is a coming-of-age comedy set in the '80s, East Coast, New Zealand.

Boy (James Rolleston) is obsessed with Michael Jackson - in particular, his dance moves - and his little brother Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu) possibly possesses 'powers'. The pair are trying to find their potential (and the meaning of the word "potential") while living in the shadow of their larger-than-life dad, Alamein (Waititi).

In Boy's eyes, his dad is a hero: a deep-sea diver, war veteran, rugby captain and close relation of Michael Jackson. But in reality Alamein is doing seven years in jail and is a member of the three-man Crazy Horses gang. Now out of the can, Dad returns home and Boy is confronted with the man he thought he remembered.

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Flicks Review

A movie that is distinctly kiwi, in all the good ways, Boy takes place in a beaten-down coastal village, a dead-end place where in the ‘80s one could only dream about the magnificence of Michael Jackson or the glamour of TV’s Dynasty.... More

It’s is a film with modest ambitions but a love for its subjects. Writer-director Taika Waititi takes from experience, using his ear for the musicality of the Maori accent to create a strong sense of place. Boy moves from comedic into more serious territory but, for once, we are not seeing onscreen Maori as hampered by domestic violence or mired in spiritual guff.

Excellent and honest debut performances from James Rolleston and Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu as his younger brother, Rocky, are hugely impressive. Next to them, Waititi himself comes off a little caricatured as their father, Alamein, who in his son’s eyes is imagined to be anything from a heroic soldier to a samurai warrior. The drama begins as Boy begins to see the real Alamein, a man not yet come to terms with his own adulthood and the responsibilities that ought to come with it.

Patchy pacing becomes an issue in the second half and some cartoonish moments create a distancing effect but this story about the gap between youthful potential and the puzzling mystery of adulthood is a feel-good, warm-hearted salute to the virtues of rural New Zealand. And it’s our best film in years.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 143 ratings, 157 reviews
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BY Ponyboy lister

I really liked this film but it seemed like it was missing another thirty minutes. It should have been longer with a more developed story.

Nice movie ......good to see this movie....

Film reviews in NZ

Taika Waititi's short OSCAR winning "Two Cars, One Night" was fabulous - so his first full length feature, "Eagle vs. Shark" was a bit of a let down. For a comedy it just wasn't that funny and it retrod ground that "Napoleon Dynamite" had already trod - to far funnier results. But in "BOY," Waititi hits the mark. Warm hearted, funny and beautifully shot - "BOY" is sure to establish itself as a Kiwi classic before it matures. Don't be an egg -... More see it for yourself and enjoy.Hide

BY waihinau nobody

It would be nice if a Kiwi film could rise above bad acting and cartoonish caricatures. Painfully slow movie that relies on mawkish nostalgia. I find nothing lovable or charming in a 'comedy' about the awful things adults do to children.

BY munchkin superstar

Good to see the eighties in a whole new light a funny and moving story

Showing 5 of 157 reviews. See all reviews

The Press Reviews

  • One of the unexpected triumphs of Boy, an enormously likeable coming-of-age comedy, lies in its ability to recapture the vulnerability and optimism of childhood without becoming twee or maudlin in the process. Full Review

  • 'Boy' shows a community adrift in the present. Full Review

  • A cross between "The 400 Blows" and "Slumdog Millionaire" (though not quite in their class)... James Rolleston's sweet, winning performance in the title role as a kid with a lot of potential and a vivid imagination, largely overcomes the leisurely storytelling. It's a crowd-pleasing film that could find a modest theatrical audience. Full Review

  • The result is alternately zany, sentimental, and remarkably insightful about the quirks of a child’s mind. Full Review

  • Waititi never builds much momentum for his largely uneventful if sometimes inventive story. Full Review

  • Boy is a very funny and surprisingly thoughtful film of buried treasure, lost Mums, super-powers and Michael Jackson. It has one of the saddest scenes involving a goat to ever appear on screen, but still manages to be one of the funniest films in ages. Anybody who misses out on it is a total egg. Full Review

  • This unpretentious comic tale of a youngster’s growing relationship with a long-absent father has a surprising rhythmic genius: joy juxtaposed with humiliation, silliness with sadness, fantasy with reality, and none of it formulaic. The editing feels fresh, as does the film. Full Review

  • The thing with Taika Waititi's wildly successful short film, Two Cars, One Night, was that it lasted only 11 minutes. Just long enough to generate a smile, and take a whole lot of us back to pub car parks in the '70s. Full Review

  • Further proof that Wes Anderson has overtaken Quentin Tarantino as the world's most mimicked indie auteur, this Kiwi coming-of-age story employs enough quirky costuming, symmetrical framing and sub-Mothersbaugh-scored slo-mo sequences to make Max Fischer blush. Full Review

  • It feels like a while since I smiled this wide and felt this good watching any film, kiwi or otherwise. It was a great feeling Full Review

  • Apart from the local vistas and mostly Maori cast, Waititi has scrubbed away all culturally specific traits from his growing-up-Kiwi comedy, concentrating instead on the same things that might infatuate any other 1984-era moppet: a schoolyard crush, a missing dad and, above all, Michael Jackson. Full Review

  • Inspired by the short film Two Cars, One Night, Taika Waititi brings together a great cast of New Zealanders to tell the story about a young boy living in Waihau Bay with his family and his goat. Full Review

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