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Review: The Boys Are Back

We're supposed to root for this guy?
By SHAULA CLARK  |  September 30, 2009
1.5 1.5 Stars


Director Scott Hicks (Shine) returns to warm hearts with the saga of Joe Warr, a journalist (based on real-life columnist Simon Carr, and played by Clive Owen) whose second wife (Laura Fraser) dies of cancer, leaving him a single father with a hands-off parenting style. With the help of some gorgeous scenery and fine acting, the film goes down easy, even though we're supposed to root for a guy who abandoned a six-year-old son and fucked off to Australia with his mistress after knocking her up with a child he's then too busy to care for.

Dramatic tension arises when Joe's assigned to cover the Australian Open in far-off Melbourne: he can't bring his brood, but his job's on the line. His solution? To monitor the matches from his living room, then leave his two kids (one from each wife) alone for a couple of days while he watches the final in person — a disastrous hack-meets-deadbeat maneuver.

Joe's "just say yes" policy is billed as an antidote to helicopter parenting, but there's little evidence that his laxity benefits anything but his own ego.

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