Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Boys Are Good Boys (1978)

A combination heist thriller and youth drama, My Boys Are Good Boys is awful in that it lacks consistent style, narrative credibility, and a viable theme. Nonetheless, some viewers might find the movie strangely interesting because three actors from another era participate. Their scenes are old-fashioned but slick, whereas vignettes concerning the activities of juvenile delinquents (which comprise the bulk of the running time) are relatively contemporary. These disparate elements clash badly, but that’s what gives My Boys Are Good Boys its minor train-wreck appeal. The nominal protagonist is working stiff Bert Morton (Ralph Meeker). His son, Tommy (Sean Roche), is the ringleader for a group of underage inmates. One day, they immobilize guards at their reformatory and escape so they can rob an armored truck. Bert is the truck’s driver, so the crime is fraught with Oedipal issues. Had this story been executed with any real skill, it could have been provocative. Alas, cowriter-director Bethel Buckalew is borderline incompetent, and Meeker, who also produced the picture, torpedoes the project with a lifeless non-performance. Costarring with Meeker are fellow Hollywood veterans Ida Lupino (as Bert’s wife) and Lloyd Nolan (as a dogged investigator). Despite Meeker’s low energy, these three create a veneer of studio-era professionalism. Separately, scenes with Tommy and his young accomplices recall The Bad News Bears (1976), with a diverse group of crude kids making mischief. Inexplicably, these teenaged thieves gain a bottomless supply of knockout gas and, just for good measure, a smoke grenade. Oh, well. The film’s title connects to a pair of horrid elements, the countrified theme song and a bizarre monologue delivered by reformatory guard Harry Klinger (David Doyle). That this relatively minor character vocalizes the moral of the story is typical of the film’s discombobulated nature.

My Boys Are Good Boys: LAME

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