I hate to be negative with my superlatives but now that you’ve all seen it for yourselves, I can admit that I consider Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” to be the most overrated movie of the year. Beaming from every major end of the year best-of list, I feel I must disagree. It was far from the worst movie of the year, to be sure, but it was not the best either.
I’ll admit that it was a cool idea to shoot the movie over a long period, but the innovation begins and ends with that concept. Take a moment and think about this movie, and admit to yourself that, if it weren’t for the time-lapse gimmick, the story was pretty average. Search your feelings. You will know it to be true.
I don’t have to go past the first scene to find an example. Star Ellar Coltrane sits in the backseat as his mom drives and they discuss his problems at school. She says that the teacher says he looks out of the window instead of paying attention. Said every mom of a special kid in every movie, ever. Can’t they write something more specific for him to do? That’s just lazy writing.
The slacker dad and the mom getting remarried to an abusive jerk so she can find some financial and moral support — a tried and true storyline that isn’t enlivened or enlightened here. I just spent a few minutes Googling which awards Patricia Arquette was nominated for in her role as the mom of the boy in “Boyhood,” and I realized what everyone is really talking about when they described her performance as realistic and brave. They’re talking about her looks. She looks less than Hollywood svelte and honestly kind of mom-ish. And I suppose that is brave and somewhat revolutionary, even though it shouldn’t be.
I must admit though that the casting of that kid was insanely lucky — how could he have known that Coltrane would grow up to look so much like Ethan Hawke? Like with Arquette, the physical facts of the characters were the film’s innovation.
It’s a “Boyhood” boy’s club, and the film was so lopsided in the quality of its writing and representation of the parents. For every nice, naturalistic scene between Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane, there was an equally cartoonish scene with Patricia Arquette. I love Richard Linklater, but I would put his “Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight” trilogy ahead of “Boyhood” as an example of his ability to put real life onscreen.
My favorite film of the year, obviously, was “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is the polar opposite of “Boyhood.” Ornate, theatrical, meticulous, and totally unrealistic, the elaborate storyline gave Wes Anderson the perfect material for his dollhouse style. Ralph Fiennes was unforgettable as Gustave H. Now, if someone will just get me an actual Wes Anderson dollhouse.