When Harry quit Hogwarts
DECEMBER BOYS Directed by Rod Hardy. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Teresa Palmer, Christian Byers, Lee Cormie, James Fraser, Jack Thompson PG cert, gen release, 105 min NO CLICHE of the comingof- age movie, however weary, remains unvisited in Daniel Radcliffe's first, fitful attempt to escape the shadow of a certain young wizard.
Following four Australian orphans as they holiday by the sea, December Boys features, of course, a scene where the boys spy upon a women undressing before the mirror. We also get a furtive first kiss that will linger on the lips forever, an elderly lunatic who imparts ancient wisdom, copious pop hits from yesteryear and – you’re well ahead of me – an epilogue in which the lads, now old men, revisit the scene of their formative adventures.
None of this would matter if the story were a little less clunky and the actors a little less uncomfortable looking. December Boys, which is based on a novel by Michael Noonan, brings the lads, inmates at a surprisingly cosy Catholic orphanage, to an idyllic spot for a Christmas by the sea. In between kisses and scuffles, they encounter a pretty young couple, who, currently childless, let slip that they might adopt one of the boys. Sorry?
While the other boys are suitably callow, Radcliffe, his swelling bits uncomfortably crammed into embarrassingly tiny shorts, hardly looks of an age to cuddle up to young parents. If they really did want to adopt somebody from Harry Potter, they may as well turn their attention to Sir Michael Gambon or Dame Maggie Smith.
Still, the young star does the best he can, and the scenery is pretty enough to distract from the many, accumulating absurdities. Daniel will, however, have to find a script with a bit more fibre to it if he is to launch a proper retreat from Hogwarts. DONALD CLARKE