Directed by François Girard
Written by Ben Ripley
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, and Debra Winger
You probably never thought children’s choir could be this dramatic, but Boychoir will do its best to prove you wrong.
The film centres on Stet (Garrett Wareing), an 11-year-oldboy from Texas. He’s an angry kid who lives with his alcoholic single mother. At school, he disrespects his teachers and fights. That is until his middle school principal recognizes his talent for singing. How? The film doesn’t really say. However she gets him an audition with the choir master (Dustin Hoffman) of the nation’s greatest boy choir. He fails the audition on his own accord and runs off from school.
While walking around his town sulking, his mom dies in a car accident which ultimately sets all other events in this movie into motion. In walks his estranged and well-off father (Josh Lukas) with another family. He decides to take advantage of Stet’s apparent musical talent and try to bribe his sons way into the cleverly named “National Boychoir Academy” from earlier in the film. In a convenient turn of events, he is accepted into the school.
The school is full of highly trained singers who know much more about music than Stet. The kids are serious and are under a lot of pressure to perform, introducing the viewer to some of the most evil children imaginable. Stet forms an intense rivalry with his roommate Devon (Joe West), arguably the most talented singer at the school. The kid is a comic book-esque villain, going so far as to sabotage Stet at a major performance and publically embarrass him on multiple occasions. However Stet soon finds support in his teacher (Kevin Mchale) and his choir master who mentor him in an attempt to grow his talent.
While seemingly a movie about children, Boychoir’s highlight is the adult acting. Eddie Izzard and Kathy Bates star alongside Dustin Hoffman as the choir master’s right hand and principal. The cast gives many an impassioned performance, providing a light humour and plenty of raw emotion.
At first glance, they could have made this a children’s choir rendition of Glee, but almost no modern songs are sung in this film. Instead, only the most formal classical pieces of music are ever sung, which is probably for the best. However, what makes this movie so hard to believe is how ridiculously passionate every character in the film is about children’s choir. The drama genre of film obviously must produce intense scenes, but it’s a struggle to take most of the drama in Boychoir seriously.
For a film centered on children’s choir, it even manages to give a shockingly low focus on the kids. It tries to be inspirational and heartwarming, but inevitably fails due its dull subject matter.
It’s unclear who the target audience for the film is. Boychoir is equal parts forgettable and predictable.