Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 24, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT


Current Status
In Season
86 minutes
Winona Ryder, James LeGros, John C. Reilly, Skeet Ulrich
Stacy Cochran
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a D

How’s this for meeting cute: Restless 25-year-old Patty (Winona Ryder), a local sophisticate with a mysterious back story, rides horse, jumps fence, conks head. Restless prep school teen John (Lukas Haas) finds same knocked out in meadow, schlepps her to dorm, withstands taunts of preppy buddies. He smiles at her with full, soft model’s lips; she smiles at him with shining dark doe eyes. In Boys, we’re meant to believe that jaded Patty rediscovers her innocence through John and that virginal John finds a way to grow up through Patty. What we in fact discover in this jaw-droppingly spiritless production, written and directed by Stacy Cochran (My New Gun), is that we really don’t care about Patty’s mysterious back story — or anything else about her.

Ryder, who did quite well as a period-piece lady in The Age of Innocence, is wanner here than a 19th-century neurasthenic. Haas (Witness) is immobilized with adolescent hormonal surges. And the story is doled out in such eensy, weensy, witless flashbacks that you may want to balance your checkbook between moments of action. ”I feel like I woke up with the dial on the wrong channel or something,” John says, explaining his deep feelings to Patty. Boys has that effect. D

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