Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Movie Review: "Boyhood" (2014)

Director: Richard Linklater
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 46 minutes
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We follow the life of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coletrane) from age 5 to age 18, as he grows up in Texas with his divorced mother (Patricia Arquette) and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), with occasional visits from his often absent father (Ethan Hawke), as well as a series of other characters that come in and out of his life.

No, that's not a typo on the poster. This movie really took 12 years to make. It was almost insane to watch Ellar Coltrane grow up right before our very eyes. Yes, other movies have featured the same actors growing up (think: the Harry Potter series), but this has never been done in a single movie. Richard Linklater deserves to be commended and respected for his efforts, which we are sure were grueling and took tons of effort. Well done, sir. This film is shot very well and manages to have great cinematography throughout the almost 3 hour run time. Despite this whopping run time, which will deter some folks from seeing it, it doesn't ever drag. In fact, with the amount of years it took to make this movie, we expected an even longer film in general. The actors do a good job for the most part, especially Arquette and Hawke, who stay fairly consistent to their characters throughout the 12 years. This movie, in all honesty, was so realistic, so life-like, that it almost seemed like it could have been a documentary of one boy's journey into manhood. Each character could have been someone from my life that has been transplanted into the film. It might not be an all-encompassing life's journey for everyone on the planet, but it did a hell of a job exploring some of the things I went through personally as a young adult.

Unfortunately, this movie is not without its problems. Is it good? Yes. Is it groundbreaking? To a point. Could some things have been changed? Always. Much of the movie relies on cultural markers, such as popular music of the times, video games, movies, political conflicts during the mid-2000's, etc. If you don't know a lot about pop culture in general, you might miss out on some of these references. As I mentioned above, I connected with this movie on many levels, especially emotionally, and way more than BigJ because I was just a bit older than the main characters during the time this movie was filmed. He felt like Mason, as a character, was not wholly interesting in and of himself, and that his life was rather average and mundane apart from a few poor choices on behalf of his mother. It's really nothing groundbreaking or new about life as a teenager that we didn't already know. He thinks that, since it covers such a large span of time, the door was accidentally left open by the director which left these bad choices underdeveloped. I agree to a point. I will admit that I had many unanswered questions when the movie was over, but not so much that it bothered me to the point of knocking the film down for it.

Some audience-goers and film lovers say this movie is painful or dreadful to watch, while an overwhelming majority of critics love it to death. Us? We're in the middle. The only reason I think it was painful for me was because of connections I made to my own life. Watching someone grow up from a young, starry-eyed cloud-gazer to a moody, broody teenager with a chip on his shoulder is something we have seen too many times in our lives, and for that, we want to praise Linklater for his unbelievably accurate portrayal. Like we said, this won't be everyone's cup of tea, and it won't define everyone who sees it, but it does a masterful job in some aspects. We think it's worth a watch for the sheer amount of effort it took to craft this piece of what some have called cinematic art.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 9.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "Wild Target"


  1. Wow! This sounds neat. I want to see it just to watch a movie that took 12 years to make. 3 hour movies don't bother me. I am a LOtR fan lol

    1. It was a very neat thing to watch unfold on screen. I am glad the run time doesn't bug people, longer movies aren't always bad!

  2. I love how your your reviews reflect both you and J's thoughts seamlessly. It's like being in an easy conversation.
    I've always liked Richard Linklater. This movie is one that is on my list to see but it's teetering on the theater or Netflix list.

    1. We are usually pretty even on our thoughts about the movies we watch, but this one was a big discrepancy for us! It's hard when you're trying to speak for two people, so I'm glad it came out okay!

      This may be a DVD one for you if a 3 hour run time bothers you. But, the theater means less distractions, at least for us! Let me know if/when you see it!