Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

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  • Summary: Inspired by a true story, The Boys Are Back is a deeply moving, wryly confessional tale of fatherhood, that intimately evokes both the fragility and wonders of family life. It follows a witty, wisecracking, action-oriented sportswriter who, in the wake of his wife’s tragic death, finds himself in a sudden, stultifying state of single parenthood. With turbulent emotions swirling just below the surface, Joe Warr throws himself into the only child-rearing philosophy he thinks has a shot at bringing joy
    back into their lives: “just say yes.” Raising two boys – a curious six year-old and a rebel teen from a previous marriage -- in a household devoid of feminine influence, and with an unabashed lack of rules, life becomes exuberant, instinctual, reckless and on the constant verge of disaster. United by unspoken love, conflicted by fierce feelings and in search of a road forward, the three multi-generational
    boys of the Warr household, father and sons alike, must each find their own way, however tenuous, to grow up. Their story is not just about the transforming power of a family crisis -- but the unavoidable grace of everyday life and love that gets them through. (Miramax)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    In less capable hands, the movie could have been maudlin. Instead, Hicks and Owen have created an intimate drama told with humor and emotion.
  2. For all its generally judicious choices, there's one device in The Boys Are Back that may test the patience of some viewers. Every once in a while, the late Katy pops up in a scene to offer Joe wifely advice.
  3. 75
    Owen, in a heartfelt, award-caliber performance, never goes soft. It's his core of toughness that makes the movie so funny, touching and vital.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Tidily arranges its raw feelings about fathering and manhood into a decent, intelligent melodrama meant to soothe audiences and provoke no one.
  5. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    The effect is weirdly lulling. Viewers with a special connection to this story, or a weakness for little boys and single dads, may find The Boys Are Back moving. For everyone else, the movie is merely picturesque.
  6. That it's all true might make it more heart-tugging, but it doesn't make it any more interesting.
  7. Owen is a magnetic, sensitive presence at the center of a movie that doesn't deserve him and that barely deserves to be seen.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 7
  2. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. KerrynS
    Nov 14, 2009
    Fantastic, thought provoking, real story, with breathtaking scenery.
  2. Allan
    Oct 8, 2009
    Mostly both moving and fun. The movie makes clear that Owen's character doesn't get it all right: he's a bit of a kid himself. But his "just say yes" is a good antidote to the overprotective, overscheduled childhood that the movie's American critics espouse. (I raised 4 boys. I was also firmly told "no" when I wanted to put playground equipment outside some apartments I own.) The kid on the hood is a dumb thing to do; but the bathtub superhero is great, especially watching Owen at first think "I can't allow that!" and then "but why not?" The movie raises this as an issue to think about; and the critics seem unable to do so. Expand
  3. Marco
    Oct 3, 2009
    Beautiful cinematography, engaging story, and fine acting. I found it not at all "weepy" or maudlin. On the contrary, the narrative was entirely plausible and admirably understated. Expand
  4. KarinaM
    Nov 4, 2009
    Beautifully filmed, perfectly acted, well scripted. I see what some reviewers mean about the stock scenes and the ghost of Joe's wife, but the film was really about the relationships among the various males, which were portrayed with sensitivity and reality. I also liked it that Joe didn't end up in bed with the other 'female interest'. Expand
  5. Jun 15, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I was really looking forward to this movie. I thought it would be a refreshingly intelligent, progressive and emotionally real depiction of single fatherhood. It was almost. I think unfortunately the Australian film industry gets in the way of itself in terms of a genuine, un-cliched human story. The kind of human realism and emotional depth required to really engage the viewer tend to be outshone by the persistent pandering to our own cliched ideals about men, women and the picturesque landscapes we inhabit. I guess the AF industry isn't big or mature enough yet to include those self-obsessed 'Aussie culture' films - with a whole bunch of other movies that transcend them emotionally and conceptually, and really speak to people as a whole [including Australians]. Although this movie is really quite beautifully produced and includes an evocative soundtrack that communicates much of the emotion, the great moments are still weighed down by almost embarrassing unsophistication in terms of male-female relationships and confused gender hostility typically found in Australian movies. Apparently we don't understand love, we don't like real human connections, in fact we don't like men and women appearing to get along or relate whatsoever. We like them to be angry aliens on each other's planet. Otherwise it interfers with our entrenched lazy ideals about who we are and who we are not, that save us from any real emotional development that might one day be reflected in our films and put us on par with other countries. The movie starts with a gratingly ridiculous and base couple banter, followed by a very moving and well edited treatment of death in a family, and yet the movie innapropriately raps up with a faintly victorious declaration that the three 'boys' have managed to succeed in living without women, including their recently dead one. Although based on a memoir, this is still a story snapped up wittingly or otherwise for being about a loveable incompetent male and the irritating competent females who orbit around him, and they all don't get each other and they all fight a lot and yet utterly accept it as their natural lot in life. Yaaaawn. And in true urban spirit, they'll all live self-righteously ever after. Expand
  6. May 29, 2011
    A movie without much expectations which finished astonishing me. The movie touches us, especially if we fit into one side of the story. I already got will of seeing Clive Owen in a drama, had been some time and finally it was the time for another one. The guy could hold the movie practically by oneself, being completed by Artie who brings the funniest part, and by Harry, who brings the most dramatic, which it swings with the dramatic piece of Joe. A cuddly movie that shows the face of a painful loss and obstacles to tour until the arrival of a deserved victory. Expand
  7. JulieD
    Nov 4, 2009
    Boring - felt like slapping the child - thought there was something wrong with all of them. Yet another failure for Australia in making movies.