I’m told that Simon Carr’s The Boys Are Back is an honest and affecting memoir about a father’s attempt to come to grips with life after his wife died of cancer. Whatever it is on the page, the movie version — directed by Scott Hicks (Shine) — is hamstrung by predictability and padding. Still, some positives can be found: It’s interesting, for example, to see Owen shed his brooding skin to play Joe Warr, a sportswriter who lives in the Australian outback where he cares for two sons. Young Artie (Nicholas McAnulty) fills the movie’s heart quotient. George MacKay portrays Harry, a teen-age son from Joe’s previous marriage. Harry travels from England to spend time with his dad. In one of the movie’s least persuasive conceits, Joe’s late wife appears to him, offering advice on child rearing. I credit the movie for trying to grapple with the crazy-quilt aspects of life in which families from different marriages try to blend, but the movie turns out to be more conventional and less convincing than one might have hoped.
For 27 years, Robert Denerstein was the film critic at The Rocky Mountain News. Read more of Robert's reviews at Denerstein Unleashed.