7 May 2015

Boychoir - film review

From At The Movies, 7:31 pm on 7 May 2015

Boychoir - directed by Francois Girard, starring Dustin Hoffman, Debra Winger and Eddie Izzard

In choir films, there’s always one character with a bad attitude, and invariably he’s the kid with the talent. Stet lives with his slatternly Mum on the wrong side of the tracks. His teachers don’t know what to do with him – all but one. Ms Debra Winger can see he’s got a terrific voice and urges him to try out for Boy Choir.

Boy Choir is where the cream of America’s youthful choristers go. It’s a prep school for boy sopranos, and could just be the making of the rebellious Stet. What he needs is that standard figure in all these movies – the Inspirational Teacher. 

In this case it’s crusty old Mr Carvelle, played by Dustin Hoffman. Carvelle takes one look at surly young Stet and rejects him out of hand. But the other teachers urge him to look again.

In a choir films we pretty much know the steps the story’s going to take – Stet starts badly, he gets picked on by the snobby rich kids, he decides to get good just to show them, and so on. Minor subplots are tossed in, then sorted out without breaking a sweat. The star character Stet is, ironically given his startling singing talent, essentially two-note. He’s angry, then he comes right.

Even the singing – which after all in a film called Boychoir is the point of the exercise – isn’t as knockout as it’s clearly meant to be.

Pity really. I wanted to love Boychoir more than I did. But I found myself missing the musical highs and lows of both As It Is In Heaven and…  I have to say, no-one’s more surprised about this than I am – the teen movie Pitch Perfect.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to At The Movies

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)