For critics and audiences everywhere, Boyhood has received the sort of universal acclaim from all corners that you rarely see in the movie industry. When people describe it, they use words like “breathtaking”, “unparalled” or any number of other colorful adjectives they’ve used to take to hail it as a masterpiece. Not only does it have a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.9 on IMDB, Boyhood has a 100 on Metacritic, putting it on the same level as The Wizard of Oz, Lawrence of Arabia or The Godfather. It’s had awards heaped upon it, and is the likely front-runner for Best Picture.
In summary, it is enjoying the affections and favor of a large number of people at the moment, and what I am about to say is not likely to make me very popular with many of them.
A lot of critics and moviegoers think Boyhood is a masterpiece. This critic however thought it was a piece of something else. That’s right folks, dive for the bunkers, because I’m pulling the pin on this grenade: Boyhood was awful. Worse, Boyhood was a trite, trivial movie of little worth beyond the central gimmick, and that it has duped so many people into thinking otherwise leaves me with the terrible responsibility of pointing out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.
Before I go much farther, I feel it necessary to point out that I’m not doing this for the sake of click bait or being a contrarian for its own sake. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve seen Boyhood three times now, and each time, I wanted to like it, or even find an angle or detail that might give me some insight into seeing why so many people have heaped rapturous praise upon the movie. I tried, I really tried, and I’m sorry, but the emperor needs to put on some pants, because Boyhood just isn’t that good of a film.
I am well aware that the movie took twelve years to film, as if that little factoid being branded on every poster and trailer for the movie for Boyhood would ever let me forget. I respect that fact, I really do, and it must have been an incredible feat of logistics for Richard Linklater, Patricia Arquette and the rest to take the time out of their demanding work schedules to find two months to shoot scenes for Boyhood over a mere a decade. I only wish it had something worth filming for that long, much less watching for three hours.
Let’s put aside the background of the film and examine what we have with Boyhood for a moment. Pretend that going into the movie, you had no idea it took them more than a decade to make Boyhood. What’s left after that? Not a whole not unfortunately.
The movie follows a young boy named Mason Evens as he grows up into a young man. We see him deal with growing up in a broken family, dealing with a dad who shows up every few years and a mother who keeps trading out one drunken, abusive partner for the next year’s model. We see Mason go to school, have friends and relationships, play some video games, and finally leave for college. And that’s it.