Posted: 01/25/2010


The Boys are Back On DVD Jan. 26


by Laura Tucker

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What I couldn’t stop thinking about while watching the film The Boys are Back, out on DVD January 26, was the different roles kids take and how it affects kids to lose one over the other. While we see how it affects a child to lose one parent through part of the movie, through the rest we learn how it affects another child to lose the other parent.

Clive Owen stars as Australian sports journalist Joe Warr. Life seems perfect for him, his wife, Katy (Laura Fraser), and his 6-year-old son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty), until Katy is diagnosed as having cancer ravaging through her whole body. It’s obviously too late to stop it, and she passes away. Joe tries to explain things to Artie, but he just doesn’t understand, preferring to go off and play instead of dealing with it. It’s hard for us as adults to understand death, so it can be really difficult to get young kids to understand.

Joe has a hard time dealing with the death himself, and on top of it has a young boy to take care of. He decides to take a vacation and some much needed time away, but Katy’s mother, Barbara (Julia Blake) disagrees, saying kids need structure, not a vacation. Joe pays her no mind and takes off, but struggles to deal with Artie when he acts out. He talks to Katy, telling her he doesn’t know what to do, and her spirit tells him “give him a cuddle.” Joe can’t do that, though, and just tries talking to him. Meanwhile, Artie breaks down at least once a day, laying on the floor and just staring into space. It’s here that we notice how much it must affect kids to no longer have the person that was responsible for their emotional needs.

Barbara isn’t the only one that thinks Joe isn’t handling this the greatest. While Laura (Emma Booth), a mother of a girl from Artie’s class, doesn’t initially mind helping Joe watch Artie in the beginning, and it seems a new romance could be starting, once he goes back to work and is asked to resume going out of town to sporting events, she feels a little put out to be asked to fill in, and feels like he’s taking advantage. She adds that he drinks too much and lives like a pig. This is due to his parenting outlook being that he thinks kids should grow up with freedom and playtime, instead of a bunch of rules, so no one cleans the house, but they make sure they find time to jump on the beds and play soccer inside.

It’s great that Artie gets to have a lot of fun, yet it’s clear he’s still missing out on the emotional support he once had from his mom. While you would think it would be more difficult for him, it seems to help once Joe’s son from his first marriage, Harry (George MacKay) comes to visit. His mom sent him to stay with Joe and Artie for a bit, and while he initially has a hard time adjusting, it’s clear how much his presence helps Artie. While Artie is still missing the emotional support he had been used to, Harry has been missing the dad that just wants to have fun for much of his life, affecting him a great deal.

Between the three guys, they have to figure out how to make it work. Joe needs to figure out how to help Artie to adjust to not having that emotional support, because as hard as he tries, he’s just never going to measure up in that area to Artie’s mom. And Harry needs to adjust to now having his father in his life again, not being with his mom, and also adjust to a new locale, since he has grown up in England. It’s the adjustments that make the movie, and their lives.

Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at

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