Boy could have been a twee mush of cuteness and bathos but it's not, in large part because of the outstanding cast of unself-conscious Maori kids.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
Joy juxtaposed with humiliation, silliness with sadness, fantasy with reality, and none of it formulaic. The editing feels fresh, as does the film.
David DeWitt - New York Times
It's serious stuff, but with a veneer of cheeky comedy.
Michael O'Sullivan - Washington Post
"Boy'' rollicks along with bright, sunny style and, for the most part, balances its sadness with invention.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
E.T., Musical Youth, and Shogun also turn up, but these pop-culture signifiers aren't enough to make up for the lack of a plot (or even a purpose).
Melissa Anderson - Village Voice
Taika Waititi has found a way to balance his offbeat sensibility with a maturing humanity.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
It's ... super-exuberant and super-affecting, thanks to the pairing of James Rolleston as the boy of the title and the filmmaker as his father.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
A film like this would have little chance without the right casting, and James Rolleston is so right as Boy, it's difficult to imagine anyone else.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Waititi has reached into his past for a story that belongs to him alone.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
Boy is a charmer, a funny and affecting coming-of-age story rendered with heart, and with nuttiness.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
"Boy" finds hope, and love, in the oddest corners.
Tom Long - Detroit News
"Boy" is a delightful discovery, a charming little film about fathers, sons, New Zealand and Michael Jackson.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
The material is clearly quite personal for the helmer, though it doesn't feel particularly original.
Peter Debruge - Variety
Somehow manages both to drag on and feel too short at the same time.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
A simple story of coming of age and the bitter failings of hero worship that succeeds thanks to the impressive skills of its young star.
Linda Barnard - Toronto Star
An alternately zany, sentimental, and remarkably insightful look at the quirks of a child's mind.
Eric Kohn - indieWIRE
Even the inevitable flaws of the low-budget production are winning, showcasing as they do the narrative artistry that makes Boy so distinctive amid current factory-written studio productions.
John Barber - Globe and Mail
A cross between The 400 Blows and Slumdog Millionaire.
James Greenberg - Hollywood Reporter
Writer-director and co-star Taika Waititi ("Eagle vs Shark") never builds much momentum for his largely uneventful if sometimes inventive story.
Gary Goldstein - Los Angeles Times
The momentum from the opening dissipates early and without a real engine pushing the movie foward, it begins to drag...the film is 87 minutes and feels like it's 2 hours.
Cory Everett - The Playlist
This is an upbeat, often hilarious, but never mawkish, celebration of love.
Amber Wilkinson - Eye for Film
It's one of those flicks that has more resonance than you may at first realize and a level of charm that few films contain.
Erick Weber - NECN
Rolleston's winning presence doubtless has much to do with the fact that Boy is a record-breaking hit in its home country, but there's some salt mixed in with the film's sugar.
Sam Adams - Philadelphia City Paper
- Austin Chronicle
A performer and comedian before becoming a filmmaker, Waititi uses his comic sensibilities to keep Boy from becoming mawkish or cliched. He has created a coming-of-age tale that is truly original.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
Waititi does a nice tonal juggling act, balancing eccentric characters, a 1980s setting, child-drawn animation and Maori-inflected restagings of Michael Jackson videos with the painful consequences of parental neglect.
Mike Russell - Oregonian
This is a good-natured, goofy and often charming little coming-of-age comedy that is bright, light and fun.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Homegrown though it often feels, the film is hurt by a distinct lack of budget; how else to explain why "Thriller," or any song at all by Michael Jackson, never appears?
Funny and touching at times, but a little bit of Dad goes a long way.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
The storytelling is far from standard, from the endearingly eccentric characterizations and performances to match to the whimsical, sometimes surreal tone.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
From its pop culture addicted populace...to the exploits Boy imagines for his dad (deep sea diver, war hero, friend of Jackson) depicted by animations of Rocky's crayon drawings, "Boy" charms.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
"Boy," from New Zealand, has its charms, most of them to do with Boy, an 11-year-old pop-culture enthusiast who's obsessed with Michael Jackson and moonwalking.
John Hartl - Seattle Times
Taika Waititi's journey into the heart and soul of an 11-year-old boy in New Zealand will take you back, regardless of your country.
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
Their hopeful, honest faces outweigh the dialogue.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
The children here are both remarkable, not relying on cuteness, but allowed to remain children, with the pain that brings alongside the pleasure.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Colorful visuals and sometimes overly broad sight gags communicate in a universal language [for] this heartwarming film infused with affection about growing up Maori.
Nora Lee Mandel - Film-Forward.com
One might predict that Boy, loosely based on the 1980s New Zealand childhood of Taika Waititi, would be funny and offbeat, but the surprise is how refreshingly original, charming and emotional it is.
Diva Velez - TheDivaReview.com
Think Whale Rider meets Superfly, except mama's dead instead of Freddy.
Kam Williams - AALBC.com
It's a lovely oddity, and one that will probably hit home for preteen audiences all over the world.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
The performance by Rolleston has a precocious authenticity.
Todd Jorgenson - Cinemalogue.com
The use of flipbook animation and exaggerated fantasy sequences entails a certain logic, but these devices run aground on a fairly limited sense of imagination which fails to make up for the story's essential slightness.
Andrew Schenker - Slant Magazine
New Zealand coming-of-age story has moments of beauty and warmth, but is ultimately too twee by half.
David Noh - Film Journal International
Waititi's a gifted storyteller with a generous sense of humor and a confident way with actors, with Boy a great example of his agreeably idiosyncratic vision.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Writer-director Taika Waititi may be the founder of his own school of humor: call it "cruel-reality" comedy..it entertains and touches with sly assurance and deep feeling.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
While its airy slightness and brisk running time at times betrays its origins, its modesty also constitutes much of its homemade charm.
Nathan Rabin - AV Club
Boy needn't be pop-culturally fluent to be relatable; believable human characterizations would have sufficed.
Eric Hynes - Time Out
The title character's charm cannot make up for the film's lack of a narrative center
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Humor, obscenity, drugs, sadness and an uncommon take lift 'Boy' above its advertised 'coming-of-age tale about heroes, magic and Michael Jackson.'
Donald J. Levit - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A lovely surprise.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
It is far from a bad film; in fact, it's totally pleasant and enjoyable. Due to all the money it collected in its New Zealand release, it will receive both hype and criticism disproportionate to its quality.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
All the performances are wonderful and frankly films are rarely this genuine and consistently entertaining.
Thomas Caldwell - Cinema Autopsy
A sweet, charming flick where the humour reverberates with authenticity. A case of plot drift and abandoned subplots hold it back, though.
Marc Fennell - Channel 10 Australia
Boy is the feel-good film of the year. This boy's life is a hilarious and bewitching reminder of what it's like to be young.
David Michael Brown - Empire Magazine Australasia
Not since 2008's Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire has pleasure and pain come together so beautifully.
Anders Wotzke - Moviedex
This charming, funny and highly original comedy from New Zealand has a magic all its own.
Julie Rigg - MovieTime, ABC Radio National
The film has a disarming naturalism and spontaneity. Waititi never pushes too hard. He knows the importance of restraint, understatement and surprise.
Evan Williams - The Australian
With plenty of charm and humour, Boy is shaping up as the feel-good film of the year.
James Mitchell - Trespass
While Boy is built upon sturdy foundations of accessible comedy and relatable drama, it never quite assumes the shape of a typical crowd-pleaser.
Leigh Paatsch - Herald Sun (Australia)
Boy contains very little 'quirk for quirk's sake' -- and that's no mean feat for a film that's replete with 'nudge-nudge-wink-wink' 80s nostalgia, music video recreations, and a key character who may or may not be a superhero.
Fiona Williams - sbs.com.au
There's a poignancy to Boy, apart from the humour which is a great component of the film, to make it a truly original piece of cinema. It is full of craziness and heart.
Margaret Pomeranz - At the Movies (Australia)
It feels as authentic to Maori culture as the haka, with a cheeky and understated charm. As they say across the Tasman, choice.
Garry Maddox - Sydney Morning Herald
It starts out as a fairly innocuous comedy but it gradually develops into something more dramatic, more meaningful.
Matthew Toomey - ABC Radio Brisbane
Boy is one of the most successful films of all time in its home country and it's not hard to see why. It's about that moment every child experiences when they realise their dad or mum is not a hero but just a human being.
Nick Dent - Sunday Mail (Australia)
Beautifully realised and touching on serious issues, this moving film is propelled by big laughs and an even bigger heart.
Julian Shaw - FILMINK (Australia)
A wonderful mix of elements, ranging from lighthearted character-based humour to profound drama, and studded with observational detail about human nature in general, via the cultural specificity of New Zealand's bi-racial society
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Outwardly simple, yet inwardly complex, this soulful coming of age debut feature from Taika Waititi is the tale of a young boy's harsh reality deflected by fantasy
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile