The December Boys
The December Boys was originally a coming-of-age novel by Michael Noonan. It
related the story of some orphans from the Australian outback who get a chance
to take a dream vacation together at the seashore one summer in the 1930s. The
filmmaking team apparently thought that premise was too non-commercial, so they
updated the kids' story to about 1970 or 1971 (the oldest boy and his girlfriend
listen to and sing along with "Who'll Stop The Rain?"), and they added a framing
story that takes place in the present, allowing one of the boys to narrate the
tale as a recollection, and creating an opportunity for the boys to have an
emotional reunion as adults. That change was obviously meant to target the baby
boomer market, and that ought to have provided a financial benefit since it
would alter the pop culture backdrop to fit the memories of a very large group
of prosperous people, almost all of whom are still alive to buy tickets, most of
whom are self-absorbed enough to wax nostalgic about the period when they lost
their innocence. Very
pragmatic. Plenty of potential ticket-buyers remember childhood in the 1970s,
but there are not many left alive who remember boyhood in the 1930s.
There was another key change from the book. The story had originally been
about five pre-pubescent boys who were all about the same age. In order to add
further spice to the film, the five were consolidated to four, and one of them
was promoted to teenager status, thus creating the genre-obligatory feature of a
doomed summer romance. As a kicker, Daniel Radcliffe, known to the world as
Harry Potter, was cast as the older boy. The final product therefore lined up a
well-established source novel, spiced it with baby boomer nostalgia, and added
Harry Potter's first sex scenes. It seemed like a respectable formula.
All those changes did not create a box office winner. Major films appear in
about 300 theaters in Australia, but The December Boys opened quietly in 72
theaters, barely making the top ten in its opening week, then dropping
immediately off the leader board. The film grossed about a half-million Aussie
bucks. There was no U.S. distributor to believe in the film, so it never
reached more than 13 theaters in the States and grossed less than $50,000.
I tend to be too picky about faulty chronology and period details, but in
this case I think it is worth noting that the scriptwriter just wasn't paying
attention, and made the chronology downright confusing. The boys' holiday has to
be taking place no earlier than 1970, so the three younger kids have to have
been born around 1960. That would place them in their late 40s in their 2007
reunion, yet the actor hired to play Misty as an adult, and thus to narrate the
story, is 67 years old! Poor Misty lost twenty years of his life. The other
actors are not famous enough to have published birth dates, but they also seem
to be in their sixties or seventies. That was not the only time I got totally
confused by the timeframe of the story as I was watching it. When the boys were
in the orphanage I thought the story was placed in the 1930s. Then I saw the
scene where Harry Potter and the girl were listening to a 1970 pop song, and I
started to wonder just when the hell it did take place. Even after I started
paying attention, the references didn't seem consistent. That's what happens
when you decide to mess around with a book's chronology in a film adaptation.
You lose track of the details. Even the great Kubrick got caught in this trap in
Eyes Wide Shut. In my opinion, the potential financial benefit to be derived
from moving a story into the lifespan of a vast number of filmgoers is not worth
losing the integrity of a project.
Well, unless it's really a big chunk of
money. If you can duplicate Titanic-sized grosses in Titanic 2, then I guess
it's OK if you take a pass on the boring old iceberg and have the ship run
into a spaceship full of vampires and mismatched buddy cops who play by their
Anyway, December Boys is a small movie, even with the changes. One of
the four boys overhears an attractive and kind-hearted young couple debate
about adopting one of them rather than sending all four back to the orphanage
at the end of summer. The three younger boys then start modifying their unruly
behavior to conform to their concept of a properly desirable adoption
candidate while Harry Potter sneaks off to a cave and gets laid. End of story.
There's really nothing that can make a sweet, simple, sentimental, devoutly
religious, coming-of-age tale into a blockbuster, not even if the cast includes
Harry Potter, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, and Jessica Alba naked.
I think the last feature mentioned would drive some DVD sales, however.
I don't agree with
the vitriolic review written by The Guardian's resident curmudgeon, Philip
Bradshaw, but it's worthwhile to cite his overview:
"There is no magic in Daniel Radcliffe's first non-Potter movie: it's
an incredible clunker: naff, sentimental, like an episode of the
treacly US TV show The Wonder Years, full of golden summery memories
and riddled with irritating, unconvincing child acting.
Radcliffe is the oldest of a group of boys at a 1960s Australian
orphanage who are allowed a wonderful holiday by the sea. There are
tears and laughter and for Radcliffe a coyly dramatised sexual
awakening with a local girl. Nothing about it rings true and the
touches of whimsy and fantasy are toe-curlingly awful."
Unlike Mr. Bradshaw, I don't think the entire film rings false, but
he's on the right track. Parts of the screen adaptation did seem phony to me as
I watched it, especially the romance, the reunion, and the smallest kid's
ultimate refusal to be adopted and leave his mates. Unsurprisingly, I discovered
that those elements were all tacked on to the novel's original story when the
screenplay relocated it to the 1970 era. The young couple in the novel never
offered to adopt one of the boys. Noonan didn't grow up listening to CCR. He and
his friends were too young to have girlfriends.
The details of a personal
recollection, in order to be worthwhile, have to presented as remembered by the
person it happened to, and cannot be orchestrated by the marketing department.
This sort of sentimental first-person narrative has to be candid, personal and
close-to-the-bone to work perfectly. Author Michael Noonan was born in the 1920s
and was therefore the age of these boys in the 1930s, where he had originally
placed the story. It was a story he must have known well. The
various changes which were necessary in order to move the story into the
1970s and add a romance did not leave the author's original voice sufficiently
intact to retain the degree of sincerity necessary to lift this kind of
personal recollection to a level more memorable than the usual contrived genre
It's rated PG-13, but there is some subtle nudity. Here are
two clips of Veronica Hill
and a single screen grab.
Catch the deluxe
version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
Eve (2002) is a Canadian film with no dialogue whatsoever. It is the story of
the first woman, who lives at one with nature, but somehow suspects that
something is missing. When she happens upon a hand print in a cave drawing, she
begins to suspect that she is not alone, and begins a quest to find the other
person, and, in the process, love. Her quest takes her through many different
types of scenery, and her dreams are filled with ideas of what this "love" will
The film was shot over an 118 day period in spectacular locations:
- Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
- Banff National Park, Alberta
- Jasper National Park, Alberta
- Kootenay National Park, British Columbia
- Mt. Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia
- Roughneck Falls, Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota
- Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Olympic National Park, Washington
- Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon
- John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
- Mono Lake, California
- Joshua Tree National Park, California
- Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
- Zion National Park, Utah
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
- Dixie National Forest, Utah
- Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah
- Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
- Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
- Canyonlands National Park, Utah
- Arches National Park, Utah
- Newspaper Rock, Utah
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah
- Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
- Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
- Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon
- Shore Acres State Park, Oregon
- Cape Arago State Park, Oregon
- Harris Beach State Park, Oregon
- Redwood National Park, California
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Red Rock Canyon State Park, California
- Monument Valley, Navajo Nation
- Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Sedona, Arizona
- Tucson Mountain Park, Arizona
- White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
- Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- the Island of Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Neil St. Clair wrote and directed a story told entirely in pictures. Cinematographer Rob Plowman was nothing short of amazing in his photography,
often finding natural shapes conforming to actress contours. Some of his pans
and dolly shots in the redwoods with huge depth of field took my breath away. Kudos also to Calvin B. Grant, the editor, who managed to make the women and the
environment fuse together time after time.
If you have an interest in nature photography, and/or the naked human female
form in natural environments, and could appreciate a story told only in images,
with an evocative and eclectic sound track to help with mood and emotion, then
add this to your collection.
This film is only available in the US
in a Region 3 DVD from RLDVDs.com.
The first woman is played by former Miss Norway, Inger Ebeltoft. The
women in her dreams are played by Stacey Atkinson, Maria Cilea and Jen
Wettlaufer. All of the women do full frontal and rear except Maria Cilea, who
only shows breasts and buns.
Notes and collages
"I recommend this film for the time spent to watch it; it's a cop
scenario in the sci-fi genre. Explaining more would spoil the film."
Scoop's note: plus it offers the rare
opportunity to see Bevis working alone without Butthead.
Mr Skin came up with a real rarity - Alexandra Paul (from Baywatch) in
something I'm sure she'd like to forget: Lesbian Fun Shorts
The Comedy Wire
Comments in yellow...
The AP asked the major presidential candidates which president of the other
party they most admire. The Democrats all named Teddy Roosevelt, and all the
Republicans chose Harry Truman, except for actor/Senator Fred Thompson, who
picked Martin Sheen from "The West Wing."
* He only likes Democratic presidents who don't really
While campaigning in a livestock auction barn in Iowa, Hillary Clinton told the
crowd that it reminded her of cattle auctions back in Arkansas, adding, "I know
you're going to inspect me. You can look inside my mouth if you want."
* This is similar to the process Bill used for picking
Bob's Big Boy restaurants are expanding nationwide, but their big, plastic,
kewpie-like mascot is not welcome in Norco, California, because he's "not
Western enough." The restaurant agreed to put a cowboy hat on him, but the city
commission chairman said that's not enough: there are 11 other items about him
that don't comply with the city checklist. He said, "Yes, there's a corporate
image for Bob's Big Boy, but Norco has an image as Horsetown."
* They tried putting chaps on him, but he looked so gay,
he was like Big Boy George.