Taking up the comedic themes of "Home Alone" alongside other worldly ones out
of "Sixth Sense," director Danny Boyle has put together a formulaic
miscalculation that's as distastefully cast as it was conceptualized.
Damian (Alexander Etel) is the younger of two brothers who is not only named
for a saint (god-forbid that we don't understand that the child is specially
gifted) but spends his precious boyhood days reading up on and ejoying
visitations by saints that only he can see and converse with, ala "Sixth
Sense." So, one day when he's in his cardboard "hideout" in the back yard, a
bag full of British pounds falls off a train, takes a few bounces, and lands
on his makeshift house, he assumes its a gift from the heavens that must be
used to help the poor and other needy people.
His older brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) is a bit wiser in the ways of
finances, the imperative need for secrecy in the face of universal greed (not
his own, of course), and the impending arrival of a whole new currency, the
Euro. The hundreds of thousands that they now possess and consider their own
need to be exchanged pronto.
One of the problems with keeping the secret and with the movie, is that
Damian is a willful know-it-all-and-better-than-thee with the self-righteous
obstinacy of a pre-pubescent brat. This not only provides some basis for
being found out in order to keep the drama alive, but does the movie in by
punishing us with the hideous creation that the device makes necessary rather
than the vulnerable and susceptible one the film needs.
Damian's character lays a cold blanket over whatever comedy might have been
extracted from the situation, especially when the bank robber who survived
the fate of his mates and who threw the bags of loot off the train for later
retrieval, comes calling for his property. (The big bad guy against helpless
pre-adolescents who have something he wants, ala "Home Alone" but without a
Culkin in sight.)
Between the magical spirits and the central character's spoiled spirit, this
fantasy is too heavy to float off the ground. It seems chained to a
mentality of confused ill humor and more clueless storytelling than the wit
to arouse sympathetic interest in its contrived plot and precocious plotters.
Boyle would be well-advised to refrain from spreading his subject matter into
areas he knows not well, but to concentrate on his successful genres, like
those of "28 Days Later" and
"Trainspotting," where his considerable genius and understanding lie.
~~ Jules Brenner