This new film from the maker of Eagle vs. Shark has enough off-center allure to merit a theatrical presentation, albeit probably not a sustained one in smaller-market art house venues.
However, Boy is hardly a desperate drama, done with a sure, even light hand by director and costar Taika Waititi set in a Maori community, circa 1984.
It's more of a character-driven coming-of-ager as the eponymous preteen, well-played by James Rolleston, gets to know his estranged dad Alamein (Waititi) which goes against his preconceptions.
Much pop-culture imagery and irony are able to resonate (ala Michael Jackson and "Rocky") meaningfully within Waikiki's oddly affecting sensibilities as Boy is drawn into Alamein's latest pursuits. There is enough toughness and tenderness to go around in a less whimsical approach often bolstered by amusing gags. It helps that there is a palpable, genuine on-screen camaraderie between Waititi and Rolleston that makes the humanity of Boy shimmering rather than stunted.