A Boy Called DadAfter a casual, fumbling encounter with classmate Leanne, 14 year-old Robbie becomes a father. But only in the biological sense: she doesn’t want to know him or him to know the child.

Robbie longs to meet the baby, but does nothing to confront the situation.

Then, in a chance encounter, Robbie meets his own long-estranged father. They bond right away and the scene is set for a great story about adolescence and father/son relationships.

A Boy Called DadThis is a film I’ve seen numerous times, as I use it in social and health education classes with young people around Robbie’s age. I never tire of it, and teenagers love it. Although it has appeal to all ages, the story is pitched at older children – despite the ridiculous 15 classification. (Yes, it contains strong language, but nothing you wouldn’t hear in a typical playground.)

Kyle Ward
Kyle Ward

It’s hilarious from the outset (“It’s OK, it’s a safe day.” “What, Monday?”) but this is a comi-tragedy in which Robbie learns that the father he has just begun to love again is a compulsive liar and loser. And when he finally plucks up courage to approach Leanne and meet his infant son, they are disturbed by her older hard-man boyfriend. With no one to turn to, Robbie is left angry and broken. Angry broken adolescents do some weird stuff, but what happens next leaves the audience sharply divided. Well, adult audiences at least.

Robbie snatches his son and runs for the hills.

Some viewers find this unbelievable or just plain silly. Others think it’s a wasted opportunity: writer Julie Rutherford should have developed the story of the relationship between Robbie and his dad. Either way, it’s the death of a potentially good film. But I’ve yet to meet a teenager who feels this way. Deep down, young people know how impulsive and short-sighted they can be in times of stress and panic. Although it’s about half a lifetime ago for me, I still remember what it’s like to be 14 too – and I find the plot perfectly plausible.

The Boy Called Dad Trailer

Whatever one’s reaction, the quality of the acting here is undeniable. I don’t know what became of Kyle Ward, but his début portrayal of Robbie is one of the most convincing and touching I’ve seen. Seasoned character actor Ian Hart (Harry Potter, Finding Neverland) is cast in type for once as the rough ‘n’ ready Scouse father, and his performance is superb. Even the bit parts are acquitted with a finesse that is remarkable for a film made on a £1M budget (barely shoestring by today’s standards).

Those stumped by the abduction aspect must still surely admit that the ending is a work of genius. Without going into detail, this is a rare case of an unsentimental tear-jerker.

The music and songs in the soundtrack fit the theme well. Strong cinematography and editing provide the icing on the cake.

Although I don’t dismiss the views of those who find it fundamentally flawed, I love this film and couldn’t recommend it too highly.

A Boy Called Dad (2009)

80 min|Drama|27 Jun 2011
6.6Rating: 6.6 / 10 from 555 usersMetascore: N/A
When he becomes a father at the tender age of 14, Robbie's life quickly spirals out of control. Feeling angry and neglected by his own dad, he kick-starts a series of events that will …
A Boy Called Dad (2009)
A great story about adolescence and father/son relationships. Though some feel its flawed, the reviewer can't recommend this film more highly.
4.3
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I take it you’ve never been to Merseyside, Georgi LOL If you can’t drive by the time you’re 14 then you’re a wimp theer, lad!

    The street-wise-ness aspect is entirely credible for anyone who knows the area. The rest of the story is another matter. You’ll just have to take my word for it that 13-16 year old kids to whom I’ve shown it are like bees around a honeypot on this one.

    Perhaps it’s the quintessentially English aspect too. I dunno. This film provokes such diverse reactions. I guess that’s one of its strengths.

    I stand by it as a fookin’ good (if not great) film, though.

  2. I found the pace of the story rather slow. At the same time the score felt way too melancholic. There were some plot hotels such as the fact that while Robbie’s father hasn’t been around in a long time,Robbie at 14 he is quite the proficient driver. He is extremely streetwise as well, although one never comes to know how come. The impulsiveness of his actions is indeed plausible, yet the whole narrative doesn’t click together smoothly. I did enjoy the ending and the camework, acting was OK but I have to admit I failed to establish a true rapport with the characters. You mention that teenage audiences like the film and I am quite surprised in this as to me it’s clearly aimed at much older viewers with may be life experience and refined physosophy of life.

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