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What is the movie about? :: Oliver Twist (Indrans) is leading a normal life with his two sons, Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Nalsen K Gafoor), his wife Kuttiyamma (Manju Pillai) and father (Kainakary Thankaraj) who has memory problems. Oliver and Kuttiyamma are also feeling the problems of their old age. Antony is trying to be successful in the film field, but he is too busy with social media that he doesn’t complete the climax of the script, much to the dismay of the producer, Baby (Maniyanpilla Raju) who keeps asking if something can be done about it. His time is running out, as it has been two years after he started writing – he had directed his first film to a grand success, and this time, nobody is sure that he will finish it in time. At the same time, Charles’ interest in social media only, and nothing else is on his list of interesting things. He keeps putting Instagram stories at all times, and during the rest of the time, he is mostly sleeping.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Finally, Antony decides to return home to finish his script, and for the same, he returns home with a seven day deadline to complete his script. There he finds out that Charles is vlogging at all times, and doing nothing else. His life is highly digitalized, and he is happy to keep himself online instead of talking to anyone in the family. Antony is no different, even though his parents remember that he used to be a different person before leaving them for the city. Antony is in love with Priya (Deepa Thomas), a relationship which has lasted very long, but now he is too bust to return her calls. Her father, Joseph Lopez (Srikanth Murali) is a very rich and influential man, popular at all places. Oliver hopes to be friendly with his sons, but they don’t have that much of an interest in talking to the elders. Often, they even ignore Oliver as if he is not a part of their life. Oliver hopes that things will change, and he goes on with his life, with that wish, but Antony has very low opinion about him, and is often hostile towards him too.

The defence of Home :: There are many things which are reflections of real life incidents in the film, and one often wonders if they have come across such incidents before. Social media addiction has been an effective theme, and these days, anyone is a vlogger on Youtube, and with many followers, they think that this is life. People have been bothered more about what happens online rather than offline, and in the same the real world is forgotten, a reflection of the same is reflected here. The message about mobile phones stealing our valuable time is also provided nicely. It adds a few things about loss of relationships and health due to the use of smartphones and social media among the youth. The film, even though set most in a home and its surroundings, is visually too good, not just inside the house, but also during the outside moments. There is a lot of beauty on the screen that surrounds everything, and occasional humour adds on well. Then, there is the ending that conquers all, emotionally as strong as it could be.

The claws of flaw :: There is a lot of repetition which happens in the film, and it is surely a slow work, as we look at it. Some of the emotions are added here and there as if it was just there for the sake of it, and some incidents just become random part of the same. This comes from the man behind Philips and the Monkeypen and Jo and the Boy, and we can see similar elements being repeated here. It still doesn’t have the charm or quality of the former, which was one of the best movies released in the year, seemingly bringing a certain amount of magic to the screen. It also has its length extended a little too much, and with too many songs being added here and there, it does feel a few minutes too long. There are moments in between when we feel that this was going nowhere nowhere, and it was going to go on with the same kind of thing again and again. There are so many things coming up, and often it does seem to miss the main point, but there is the ending that brings things together.

Performers of the soul :: Indrans was earlier seen in two very serious roles this year with two films, Malik and Yuvam, playing the roles of a police officer and an advocate respectively. This one is a light-hearted, but yet emotional role for him, and having come out of fully comic roles, he has been doing this really well. This is indeed a very heartfelt performance from him, and with him at the centre of a family movie, this will be remembered as he celebrate forty years in Malayalam cinema industry, in his 341st movie in the long career. We are finally able to see him throughout a mainstream film in the lead role, and also with the most emotional touch, as he basically lives through here. Sreenath Bhasi had some very serious roles in Virus and Kumbalangi Nights not too long ago, and he now has a rather lighter version here – he had come out of that earlier “freakan” image a long time ago, and this one has him in a controlled role. Nalsen K Gafoor who was last seen in Kuruthi with all the seriousness, and earlier in Thanneermathan Dinangal with all the humour, can be seen in a realistic role of a youngster in this film, and he once again scores big. The simple comic side that he adds here brings more life to the movie.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also nice to Manju Pillai having a good role to play in a film, as we have been seeing more in the television series and comedy shows of Mazhavil Manorama. She has blended into this role really well, and one would wonder why she was not that much in similar roles before. We have always loved to watch her in Thatteem Mutteem for a long time. There are also some nice dialogues that reflects the mood of the film. Deepa Thomas has her first leading role, and she has comes up with a memorable performance too. She has indeed provided a natural performance, and we look forward to seeing her in more roles, and with more screen space in comparison to what is seen here. Srikant Murali also has a role to remember here. Anoop Menon’s act is also a good one, while Maniyanpilla Raju also drops in here and there. Vijay Babu’s role might seem very small, but is still one role that also makes a difference, with a lovely touch of humour. Johny Antony, as usual adds more humour here, while KPAC Lalitha who comes in the final stages of the movie has something special to add. Priyanka Nair also has a fine role in the flashback.

How it finishes :: Home is a movie for the present families, which are not short of this kind of a situation at different homes, due a new generation of kids who are addicted to gadgets and moving away from parents both physically and mentally. It will be remembered for some moments for the heart. The feel-good elements from the director’s earlier films can be seen reflected here, and the same kind of reflections can be seen visually too. Vijay Babu has provided us with so many of similar movies, and we have always stayed close to most of them. During COVID-19 times, having a feel-good film to watch with family was always going to be good. The messages that the film provides are effective, and leads to that one final message which raises the level of the film. Do look out for the final scenes with credits too, and it is where the movie brings a little more for the soul. So, we have our Onam movie on Amazon Prime Video, and as you watch the same, I wish you a Very Happy Onam in advance!

Release date: 19th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakary Thankaraj, Naslen K Gafoor, Manju Pillai, Deepa Thomas, Vijay Babu, Srikant Murali, Johny Antony, Anoop Menon, Maniyanpilla Raju, Aju Varghese

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jo and the Boy

joandtheboy (2)

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

joandtheboy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.