This Boy's Life
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The real life story of a free-spirited mother, Caroline Wolff (Barkin), and her wild teenage son Toby (Leo) in the late 1950ís. Hoping to set a foundation for her lad, Caroline finally stops their travels and sets up shop in Seattle. Things get out of hand when Ma Wolff decides to settle down with a seemingly good-hearted and simple man (DeNiro) so sonny-boy can have a father figure around and get some much needed discipline. He gets discipline alright-- he also gets physically and emotionally beaten down by the monster.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This is one of those movies that Iíve already seen dozens of times playing on late night T.V and every time Iíve clicked passed it on the telly, not once have I not gone back & forth to it through the night. Itís one of those feel-good inspirational true life tales that makes you believe in your hopes and dreams. Furthermore, Iím absolutely nuts about 1950ís rock so it helps that director Jones sprinkled around enough Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers and more to keep this reviewer smiling. A great (and appropriate) Sinatra tune ďLetís Get Away From It AllĒ to kick-start the opening of the film is also a nice touch. The score of the film is bang-on as well, setting the tone desired and highlighting the highs and lows of the movie perfectly. Caton-Jones remarkably captures the joys and pains that are essentially in every young manís life with this honest coming-of-age film.
Now about the performances-- damn, I forgot how striking a woman Ellen Barkin is (or rather was). Sheís first class in the role of a woman torn between trying to provide a secure life for herself and her son and still wanting to go on those free wheeling cross-country escapades with him. As far as Leo goes, say what you want about this bad boy, he gives an incredibly touching and believable performance worthy of not only an Oscar nomination, but of the actual statue on his mantle piece. DeNiro plays the son of a bitch to a tee again and puts a little pepper on it this time around. He was very convincing and even a tad funny in the way he portrayed this guy as a real simple phony and a top-notch jackass. My only complaint was the over-the-top way he ended it off...then again who am I to judge this guyís acting, last I checked I still have zero Oscars to his two. A young Tobey Maguire, Eliza Dushku and Carla Gugino also make appearances in the film. Acting is aces across the board on this one, folks.
The theatrical trailer and some cast/director film highlights are all these cheapskates provide in this package.
THIS BOYíS LIFE doesnít rank up there on my list with STAND BY ME, but it is a sweet, well-told story with some fine acting and some finer Barkin. The extras are a bust so I wouldnít fall all over myself trying to buy this disc, but you could do worse. Itís genuinely rent-worthy and did I mention Ellen Barkin is a fox. ;)