"Boy," New Zealand's highest-grossing film ever, opens this Friday in select U.S. theaters. But despite its homegrown success, chances are you've never heard of it. Fortunately, you have now.
The charming "Boy," directed with infectious energy by "Eagle vs. Shark" director Taika Waititi, premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, only to fall off the radar in the States while doing killer business overseas in New Zealand.
Set in 1984 on New Zealand's rural East Coast, the coming-of-age comedy concerns Boy (James Wolleston), a young dreamer obsessed with Michael Jackson (can you blame him?), who lives with his brother Rocky, a slew of deserted cousins and his Nan.
So where are this kid's parents? His mother passed away, but his father, Alamein (played by Waititi himself) returns into his life after putting in time for a robbery at a local gas station. The truth behind Alamein's absence serves as a rude awakening for Boy, who always believed his dad to be a war hero and deep-sea diver, among other things.
Despite this, Boy comes to his dad's help when Alamein enlists his son to locate the stolen money. With this treasure, the pair have a chance at a better life. Or so thinks Boy.
Based on Waititi's Academy Award-nominated short "Two Cars, One Night," "Boy" is told through the eyes of the young, rambunctious protagonist. As played by the adorable Rolleston, Boy makes for good, imaginative company.
Fans of Wes Anderson will notice a lot of similarities in the visual cues and narrative devices Waititi uses in his second feature. While some might scoff (as some critics have) that "Boy" is a New Zealand ripoff of everything Wes, we don't see inspiration as a bad thing.
And neither does New Zealand, if box office receipts are anything to go by.