Apparently, farmers are big into hip-hop.
“Boyz in the Wood” is the first feature film directed by Ninian Doff, who is most well known for directing music videos. The film follows a group of four boys who embark on a journey in order to earn The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, an outdoorsman award. Along the way, the boys encounter hip-hop loving farmers, incompetent police and a royal couple sporting skin masks who will stop at nothing to execute the young travelers. The film stars Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, and Lewis Gribben.
The young cast work extremely well together. They convey the sense that they have been good friends for a very long time. The teenagers act exactly like teenagers; they cuss, rebel against society and jump at any chance they get to make fun of one another. The dialogue between them is always entertaining, and when the subject matter becomes serious, the cast has no issue delivering the lines with confidence and maturity. The comedy works thanks to the chemistry in the group of teens. The supporting cast is great, as well. Eddie Izzard is a particular standout with his morbid performance as a skin mask-wearing hunter. Kate Dickie and Kevin Guthrie also deliver effectively as a silly duo of cops whose bickering never gets old.
The visuals in the film are exceptional. Lush, green lands and torch-lit ruins create a unique and visceral experience. The use of overhead shots helps convey the vastness of the land the teens are walking on and thematically establish that the world may be bigger than these teens could handle. The film also has animated effects and snappy editing. Several times throughout the film, there are quick animated visuals that detail everything from character history to the map that leads the way on the journey. These elements are accompanied by flashy visuals that breathe life into the film. The film also knows how to properly cut scenes for jokes to land. Director Doff’s music video skills are evident during a fun musical sequence. Other highlights include sequences that feature the effects of hallucinogens. The warping and crazy edits that accompany these scenes are of the utmost creativity.
The story of the film never fails to be entertaining; the group of boys consistently encounter bizarre situations and people. While these situations are great fun, they also help to showcase the bond growing between the teens. The original protagonists are a group of three, but in the beginning of the film a fourth teenager is added. Watching the kids interact with and slowly befriend the additional character is worthwhile. The kids also learn a lot about themselves throughout the film as they are physically and mentally pushed to the limit. To top it all off, the story also has something to say about social class and deals with it in a particularly absurd and hilarious way.
“Boyz in the Wood” is a gift that keeps on giving. The film unleashes its crazy with grace and perfection as it constantly reminds the audience that they are here to have a good time.
"Boyz in the Wood"