Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content
Oscars 2017
Everything you need to knowDon't Miss It


December Boys

Posted on

Lisa Tomasetti

December Boys

Current Status:
In Season
105 minutes
Limited Release Date:
James Fraser, Daniel Radcliffe
Rod Hardy
Warner Independent Pictures
Romance, Drama

We gave it a B-

Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t look uncomfortable, exactly, in December Boys, but he does look like a hot transfer student trying to fit in with local pipsqueaks a head shorter and two grades below him. Then again, were Radcliffe not making his first screen appearance since Harry Potter stardom as the oldest of the title lads, there’s a good chance this insular, Oz-centric tale might never have made its way Stateside at all. The boys are orphanage buddies in the early 1960s, sent for a seaside South Australian summer vacation. Frolicking ensues, clouded only when one of the tykes gets wind of a rumor that the quartet might actually be auditioning for adoption. And then competition ensues. Plus some cute-Catholic-childhood stuff involving cartwheeling nuns.

The movie is adapted from Michael Noonan’s 1963 novel of the same name, loved in Australia as a modern classic of young-adult literature. And the filmmakers can’t decide whether to trust the period innocence of the book (and play down their casting coup) or let the young man rip as a preteen-babe magnet (he’s notably shirtless, buff, and attracted to a sexually experienced girl who’d never be allowed into Hogwarts).

So December Boys splits the difference — safely, dully. Those who want a cheekier Radcliffe are directed to the actor’s guest appearance as himself on HBO’s Extras, especially when he declares, ”I’ve done it with a girl, intercourse-wise.” The line is funny enough to make a nun flip. B-