Boy (2010 film)

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New Zealand theatrical release poster
Directed by Taika Waititi
Produced by Cliff Curtis
Ainsley Gardiner
Emanuel Michael
Written by Taika Waititi
Starring See Cast
Music by The Phoenix Foundation
Cinematography Adam Clark
Edited by Chris Plummer
Whenua Films
Unison Films
New Zealand Film Production Fund
New Zealand Film Commission
New Zealand On Air
Te Mangai Paho
Distributed by Transmission Films
Release date
  • 25 March 2010 (2010-03-25)
Running time
88 minutes
Country New Zealand
Language English
Box office $8.6 million[1]

Boy is a 2010 New Zealand coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Taika Waititi. The film stars James Rolleston, Waititi, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu, Moerangi Tihore, and Cherilee Martin. It is produced by Cliff Curtis, Ainsley Gardiner and Emanuel Michael and financed by the New Zealand Film Commission. In New Zealand, the film eclipsed previous records for a first week's box office takings for a local production.[2] Boy went on to become the highest grossing New Zealand film at the local box office.[3] The soundtrack to Boy features New Zealand artists such as The Phoenix Foundation, who previously provided music for Waititi's film Eagle vs Shark.


The year is 1984. Alamein/"Boy" is an 11-year-old boy who lives in Waihau Bay, in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand, on a small farm with his grandmother, little brother Rocky, and several other cousins. Boy spends his time dreaming of Michael Jackson and his estranged father, Alamein, who has since left him and Rocky. Boy continually creates stories about his father such as him escaping prison and taking him to see Michael Jackson in concert. Even though Boy continues to believe this, his classmates never believe him anyway, which starts a fight between him and another classmate, Kingi, and his older brother Holden. When Boy's grandmother leaves for a funeral one day, she leaves Boy in charge of the house and his brother and cousins; Boy is then surprised to see his father and two other men arrive at the farm.

Boy and the others are happy to see Alamein return, but Rocky is displeased at their father's sudden reappearance. It seems at first that Alamein is here to finally be in his sons' lives but it is soon revealed that he is actually back to find a bag of money he had buried before being arrested by the police. With his patched gang, the 'Crazy Horses' which is just him and two friends, he begins to dig up the money in a nearby field he had buried it at but has trouble remembering the exact spot. Boy sees this and offers to help and Alamein soon decides to hang out with Boy and be a father. The two have fun such as going on drives in Alamein's car and getting revenge on Boy's bully and the bully's brother. Alamein has even convinced Boy (and others) to call him Shogun, instead of Dad. Meanwhile, Alamein has no luck with digging up the money and decides to go in the business of marijuana after he discovers Boy brought some from helping his friends pick. Boy leads his father to the stalks of marijuana who gathers all of it to use and sell. Later, Alamein and his gang go to a local hotel, and get in a confrontation with the real gang who planted the marijuana that Alamein cut down, and are beaten up. Even though this happens, Boy sees his father doing a dance fighting sequence with the others, still seeing the best in him.

Boy continues to dig for the money and one day he successfully finds the treasure but is overcome with the amount. This leads Boy to treat his friends with ice blocks and lollies from his aunt's store but Alamein comes and angrily questions and hits Boy into revealing where he got the money. Boy's Aunt Gracey stops him and yells at Alamein to leave Boy alone and he soon leaves with Boy standing shamed. Boy later visits back at the farm to check on the spot where he hid the money; his goat's pen. He is devastated though to find the money eaten by the goat. Also, Alamein's men decide to leave him and take the car as his plans continue to fail. Boy starts drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana due to his stress and that he finally understands that his father is not as great as he thought. After getting over his stress and sadness, he returns home to clean the house and put his cousins to bed. Alamein sits up depressed in the barn and is visited by Rocky and finally sits to comfort him. Just then, Boy comes in and begins to hit his father in anger but Alamein stops his crying son who then goes back to the house.

Boy and Rocky visit their mother's grave the next day to find Alamein sitting there, staring at the grave. The final scene of the film shows the boys silently joining Alamein as they sit around the grave, where Rocky asks Alamein, "How was Japan?"


  • James Rolleston as Boy, a Māori kid who is a huge fan of Michael Jackson, Boy dreams of becoming rich and going to the city with his father, brother and his pet goat. His real name is Alamein, like his father.
  • Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu as Rocky, Boy's younger brother who believes he has super powers. He's very shy, likely because of his mother's death during his birth.
  • Taika Waititi as Alamein, Boy and Rocky's Father; an ex-convict who wants to be the leader of a biker gang, and comes back to Waihau Bay to find his lost money.
  • Moerangi Tihore as Dynasty, Dallas' sister and one of Boy's best friends. She is the daughter of a biker, and seems to have feelings for Boy.
  • Cherilee Martin as Kelly, Boy's same-age cousin, who lives with him in the same house, with her three kid sisters.
  • RickyLee Waipuka-Russell as Chardonnay, a teenage girl that Boy has a crush on, and who totally ignores him.
  • Haze Reweti as Dallas, a long-haired boy and brother of Dynasty, who is one of Boy's best friends.
  • Maakariini Butler as Murray, one of Boy's friends from school.
  • Rajvinder Eria as Tane, Boy's Indian friend, who is always alongside Murray and Dallas.
  • Manihera Rangiuaia as Kingi, a school bully who often bullies Boy. He wears a Michael Jackson "Thriller" jacket.
  • Darcy Ray Flavell-Hudson as Holden, Kingi's older brother, who also bullies Boy but comes to fear Boy's father Alamein and comes to admire him.
  • Rachel House as Aunty Gracey, the sister of Boy's deceased mother, who owns a store in front of the sea.
  • Craig Hall as Mr Langston, the Pākehā school principal, who studied with Boy's parents.
  • Waihoroi Shortland as Weirdo, a strange fat man who lives near the bridge, and appears to always be looking for something. He seems to be childish and inoffensive.
  • Cohen Holloway as Chuppa, a Pākehā friend of Alamein, who is an ex-convict and very foolish, along with Juju.
  • Pana Hema Taylor as Juju, the other of Alamein's friends. He has a strange haircut, and like Chuppa is always getting himself in trouble alongside the kids.
  • Mavis Paenga as Nan, Boy's grandmother and Alamein's mother. She travels to someone's funeral for two weeks, leaving Boy in charge. She calls the children "My Mokos", which is short for mokopuna, the Māori word for grandchildren.


Director, Actor and Writer Taika Waititi

Waititi started developing Boy soon after finishing the short film Two Cars, One Night; and it first emerged as a film called Choice. The project was accepted into the Sundance Writer's Lab in 2005, where Waititi workshopped it with script writers Frank Pierson, Susan Shilliday, David Benioff and Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal. Instead of making Boy his first film as a director, Waititi went on to make oddball romance Eagle vs Shark, and continued to develop the screenplay over the next three years.

When the script was finally ready there was a small window of opportunity in which to make it. Waititi dropped the title Choice because he felt it would not translate to international audiences, and the film was retitled The Volcano. "It was a big pain about this kid’s potential to be bigger than he is or just bloom or explode," said Waititi. "So it was a character in the script as well. When we were shooting the film it was still called Volcano and during the editing. We ended up cutting a lot of the stuff out."[4]

Waititi wanted to shoot the film in the place where he partly grew up, Waihau Bay. The story was set in summer, but it was challenging to shoot in the height of summer due to the area's popularity as a fishing and holiday destination. The film features the maize fields and the maize is harvested from late April.[5] James Rolleston was not initially cast as the lead role of Boy. Another actor was already in place when Rolleston turned up for a costume fitting as an extra. Waititi gave him an audition and after reviewing the film clips, Rolleston was offered the role two days before shooting began.[6][7]


Soundtrack album by The Phoenix Foundation
Released 2010
Recorded 2010
Genre Soundtrack
Length 6:10
Label The Volcano Company Ltd and Franklin Rd
Producer Lee Prebble
The Phoenix Foundation film scores chronology
Eagle vs Shark


Boy premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival on 22 January 2010 and competed in the "World Cinema – Dramatic" category.[8] Boy was theatrically released on March 25, 2010 in New Zealand. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2011 by Paramount Home Media Distribution.


Critical response[edit]

Based on 65 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 86%, with an average score of 7.2/10.[9] Peter Calder of The New Zealand Herald gave the film five out of five stars. He praised the performances by the three main actors and said "it's hard to praise too highly the pitch-perfect tone of this movie."[10]

Box office[edit]

On release in New Zealand the film topped the box office receipts for the week, earning more on its opening day than any previous New Zealand film.[11] The film grossed nearly $900,000 in its first seven days, beating Alice in Wonderland and homegrown pictures Whale Rider and The World's Fastest Indian. It also climbed above international animated-fantasy hit How to Train Your Dragon and mythical action flick Clash of the Titans.[2] Boy then went on to become the highest grossing New Zealand film to date on its own soil, taking over The World's Fastest Indian which had held the position for five years.[12]



  1. ^ "Boy (2012) (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Churchhouse, Nick (24 April 2010). "Home Boy hit helps keep local cameras rolling". The Dominion Post (Wellington). Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Boy Now Top Grossing NZ Film Of All Time". 20 May 2010. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Andrew Moraitis (2010-08-20). "Boytown". News Hit. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  5. ^ "Boy Press Kit" (PDF) (Press release). Whenua Films. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Baillie, Russell (18 March 2010). "A Boy's own tale". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  7. ^ Audio Commentary: Taika Waititi, director; Cliff Curtis, Ainsley Gardiner, Emanuel Michael, producers. Boy. 2010. DVD. Kino Lorber, 2013.
  8. ^ "2010 Sundance Film Festival Lineup Announced". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 2 December 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "Boy (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Calder, Peter (25 March 2010). "Boy review". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  11. ^ McDonald, Greer (29 March 2010). "Boy a hit at Kiwi box office". Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "Wellington director's feature to be the highest-grossing NZ production". Scoop. 22 May 2010. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 

External links[edit]