We gave it a B-
Major studio movies often showcase one new, unproven talent. But this picture has two: screenwriter Mike Rich, a 41 year old Portland radio host (whose script Sony bought after it won an award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and 16 year old Brown (an athlete scholar from New York City who plays — surprise — an athlete scholar from New York City). Though Brown had never acted before, not even in a school play, he answered an open casting call flier. ”He could memorize a page in, like, half a minute,” Van Sant says. He also kept his composure easily opposite Oscar winners Abraham (who plays a nasty teacher suspicious of the kid’s writing talents) and Connery (as a reclusive author who helps the boy juggle the demands of two callings — basketball and letters). Van Sant, who’s gay and whose movies are sometimes seen as catalogs of homoerotic imagery, says he expects people will notice plenty of the same here — and not without reason. ”I’m probably getting into a lot of trouble by saying this,” the filmmaker admits. ”[But] I’m sure that my sexuality plays into that kind of friendship between two [male] characters. It’s sort of like a mentor – student relationship. That always has a certain kind of subliminal overtone for me.”
Does it have that overtone for Connery? ”On the issue of the gayness and whether that’s in the movie, that’s Gus’ cross to bear,” says the 69 year old star, who also coproduced. ”I suppose there could be undercurrents that [my] character is closeted. It depends on the response of people, and who’s watching. As they say in France, you buy a ticket, you’re allowed to be a critic.” GOOD SIGN It’s got echoes of ”Good Will Hunting.” THEN AGAIN It’s also reminiscent of ”Wonder Boys,” another tale of older/ younger writing pals that pleased critics but still flopped.