What is the movie about? :: Joan Mary John (Manju Warrier) used to be a kid who loved Mickey Mouse a lot and later took it as her ambition to create a cartoon character like that. When asked at school about whom she wanted to be, she had the answer as Walt Disney. Later, she grows up to be an animator who hopes to make a big series or movie with a character created by her, and for the same, she makes different approaches, but with not much of a result. As she goes above the age of thirty with no job and no interest in marriage, her parents Johnny (Lalu Alex) and Mary (Kalaranjini) become more and more worried. But she continues in her own small world trying to make that big difference to it with one right moment. Then the life changing moment appears, and the story has another direction to proceed.
So what is this sudden change of direction in life about? :: Joan needed something special with her life. Things take a turn with the arrival of a boy called Chris (Sanoop Santhosh) who was adopted by Catherine (Rekha), one of Joan’s relatives. The visit happens at a time when Joan is struggling to make a mark as things continue to work against her. After the initial dislike due to the boy’s attitude, Joan becomes good friends with him, and they become good friends. Later, he becomes the inspiration for the cartoon character whom Joan is planning to create, and she ends up designing her creation just like him. Calling the character Criz, she keeps making the attempt to impress the firm, with the man at its head not interested in her ideas. With the help of her friends and the boy, Joan will try again, as it is her only dream in life.
The defence of Jo and the Boy :: There is a very nice beginning to this movie, with the child and Mickey Mouse; it keeps that level or somewhere around there until the cartoon character gets its own problems. There was the possiblity of this one becoming the right movie embedded in the spirit of Christmas in the beginning stages. The ending is also pretty good, even though the climax has a little bit too much melodrama. This is inspirational and feel-good, that is for sure – there is no shortage of such stuff here and there even though not in totality with the story. The Philips and the Monkey Pen feeling exists right through this one, even though that much strength is not there to be a worthy successor to that amazing movie – don’t keep the expectations that high about this one. There is also the strength of some amazing visuals in this flick. You are going to fall in love with locations used here, and there is no question about that. The performances will be another plus point.
Claws of flaw :: The movie will have problems in connecting to a good number of viewers who might not have expected this from the trailers. The humour here is rather too less. The songs are not that good either, and visuals are the ones which give the feel to the music. There are problems in the middle part and the first part of the second half does have some lagging portions along with cliches. A lot of scenes which were shown in the trailer in a nice way have almost no significance in the movie in its totality. The Philips and the Monkey Pen magic is not really recreated here, with some magical moments here and there, but that connectivity, clarity and emotional strength isn’t that much present here. It should be also why this movie try to be the great overreacher with its story, when it could have stayed on the ground with the common man; instead it does try to fly too high, and becomes the Icarus with burnt wings – unlike the son of Daedalus, this one survives though. A better or even simpler story would have made this a fairy-tale beauty.
Performers of the soul :: As you might have already expected, Manju Warrier is the big performer here, as she once again manages an inspiration role to take it to a fine level, after How Old Are You? and Rani Padmini. All those “different” characteristics of this role comes to life with her, even though common man question the action here – that is explained with the “difference” factor; “divergence” isn’t really a crime, right? Sanoop Santhosh also does an interesting job here as the boy who brings the diversion in life. Even though the character is not that likable as in Philips and the Monkey Pen, he does his character well. It is nice to see Lalu Alex doing the “cool father act” once again. Sudheer Karamana is too underused here as his character disappears after making a nice impact. Sunil Sukhada also has a short appearance in the beginning stages of the movie. Pearle Maaney provides some good support. A point to be noted is that there is no pair for the heroine here, and as you expected, the romance is null.
Soul exploration :: Jo and the Boy is another movie which talks about dreams. The whole story is about the lady protagonist who has a dream in her childhood and keeps going towards it even as she reaches the age of thirty – unmarried and without a job. It is the story of many good men and women who couldn’t achieve a particular thing just because they don’t have enough contacts or blood-relationships with people at good positions – we know how it works in this world, as people with reservations and powerful relatives will get things done easily and earlier while others have to work hard to achieve it. But our protagonist keeps trying, and despite the worries, her parents also supports her. In a world in which sons and daughters of actors/directors/producers become actors without any skill, and children of ministers become leaders and then ministers, Joan is a symbol of everyone who keeps trying without accepting defeat and changing the path.
How it finishes :: As you might know already, there is no shortage of inspirational movies in Malayalam Cinema; even this year, it is a process which started with Mili, and continued to go on through Rani Padmini, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and My God. Among these five big inspirational movies including this one, three of them are heroine-oriented, one has a person who rises above his disability, and another movie has a kid at the centre of everything. Malayalam movie industry does know how to inspire its audience, that is for sure. With Jo and the Boy, I am glad that there has been a lot of inspiration gained from movies this year, and there are also those feel-good entertainers which have provided us with some more happiness, and some movies are both! I am extremely glad to have watched more Malayalam movies than the flicks in any other language this year, in the theatres.
Release date: 24th December 2015
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sanoop Santhosh, Pearle Maaney, Kiran, Lalu Alex, Kalaranjini, Rekha, Sudheer Karamana, Sunil Sukhada
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.