December Boys | EW.com

Movies

December Boys Daniel Radcliffe doesn't look uncomfortable, exactly, in December Boys, but he does look like a hot transfer student trying to fit in...December BoysRomance, DramaPT105MPG-13 Daniel Radcliffe doesn't look uncomfortable, exactly, in December Boys, but he does look like a hot transfer student trying to fit in...2007-09-12Warner Independent Pictures

(Lisa Tomasetti)

B-

December Boys

Genre: Romance, Drama; Starring: James Fraser, Daniel Radcliffe; Director: Rod Hardy; Author: Michael Noonan; Release Date Limited: 09/14/2007; Status: In Season; Runtime (in minutes): 105; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures

Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t look uncomfortable, exactly, in December Boys, but he does look like a hot transfer student trying to fit in with local pipsqueaks a head shorter and two grades below him. Then again, were Radcliffe not making his first screen appearance since Harry Potter stardom as the oldest of the title lads, there’s a good chance this insular, Oz-centric tale might never have made its way Stateside at all. The boys are orphanage buddies in the early 1960s, sent for a seaside South Australian summer vacation. Frolicking ensues, clouded only when one of the tykes gets wind of a rumor that the quartet might actually be auditioning for adoption. And then competition ensues. Plus some cute-Catholic-childhood stuff involving cartwheeling nuns.

The movie is adapted from Michael Noonan’s 1963 novel of the same name, loved in Australia as a modern classic of young-adult literature. And the filmmakers can’t decide whether to trust the period innocence of the book (and play down their casting coup) or let the young man rip as a preteen-babe magnet (he’s notably shirtless, buff, and attracted to a sexually experienced girl who’d never be allowed into Hogwarts).

So December Boys splits the difference — safely, dully. Those who want a cheekier Radcliffe are directed to the actor’s guest appearance as himself on HBO’s Extras, especially when he declares, ”I’ve done it with a girl, intercourse-wise.” The line is funny enough to make a nun flip. B-

More from Our Partners