Dir/scr: Morgan J Freeman. US. 2006. 86mins
Essentially a road movie for kids, with the adultssimply straight men and women to a wisecrackingsix-years-old, Morgan J Freeman's Just LikeThe Son joins the plethora of undemanding matinee products targeted at thechildren's crowd.
While its plot motor - adultkidnaps boy - hardly sounds ethical, audience sympathy will be aroused by thecircumstances that bedrock the narrative. Buyers may complain there that it haslittle original - and the screenplay would certainly benefit from more spice -but it does at least hit all the necessary marks. Just Like The Son may not have the makingsof a big hit, but it is solid enough to enjoy modest theatrical business beforea healthy ancillary and TV career. Film premiered at Tribeca.
Daniel (Webber), a sweetyoung petty criminal living in New York, is sentenced by a kindly judge to 240hours of community work. Detailed to a multi-ethnic neighbourhood school, henotices how some of the bigger kids keep picking on Boone (Ortiz), a roly-polyLatino-American boy with a gigantic Afro.
He intervenes, watched by theprincipal, Ms Ponders (Rosie Perez) who notes his empathy and gets him to readto the pupils. Over the next day or so Daniel comes to care more and more forBoone, who tells that he is due to be taken to an orphanage because of hisailing mother. Daniel takes matters into his own hands and the pair set off tofind the youngster a new home.
First stop is Texas, where Boonethinks his sister lives, then on to Florida: whether the sister wants to carefor her little brother, or indeed what has happened to Boone's mother, are issuesscarcely touched on by the film.
At first Daniel plays it allby the book but, as they run out of funds, so he resorts to stealing petrol or pickingpockets, all deemed acceptable acts as they are in a good cause. Other elementsthat add to the feelgood nature include episodes like sneaking into amotel pool for a morning dip or skimming stones by a river at sunset.Opportunities for calamity, as when Boone appears to be lost and Daniel becomesalmost frantic, are soon solved without too much excitement or commotion.
The main asset of the films,which unfolds smoothly but uneventfully through Yoav Orbach's sympathetic photography, is the presence of AntonioOrtiz, who is loveable and bright but needs stronger material if he wants tograduate to the status of super-tyke. Mark Webber proves pleasant company,while Rosie Perez shows up for barely a minute or two.
11th Street Prods
John Doe Entertainment
c/o Just Like the Son, LLC
(212) 431 3090
Brendan Sexton III