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Monday
Apr272015

Tribeca: King Jack

Tribeca might be over but the Team has still got a few reviews for you. Here's Jason on one of the Audience Award winners.

What happens when you see too much of a person you know in a movie? I don't mean literally. Sadly I am not acquaintances on a first-name-basis or even a-polite-nod-in-the-hallway with Chris Evans, so when I finally see the new Avengers movie I'm not gonna be all, "God I just can't buy him as Captain America. That's Lil' Chrissy up there!" No what I mean by "seeing too much of a person you know in a movie" is when a character reminds you so much of a person from your life that it ultimately becomes distracting. You find yourself paying more attention to the ways that character interacts with their real-world counterpart, your friend or mother or whatever, than ever getting lost in the movie itself. As an outside example, Sandra Bullock was just straight-up playing my boyfriend's sister in The Blind Side - it was like at least three or four steps beyond uncanniness. It was impossible to take any of that movie seriously after that.

I had a bit of that going on with King Jack... 

Charlie Plummer plays the lead kid of the title and was so reminiscent of my cousin (who was also my best friend for a spattering of early teenage years; the same age this movie covers) that I spent a big chunk of the movie playing mental gymnastics, comparing the two, the fictional and the real. King Jack is actually about the relationship between a pair of male cousins on top of that - Jack's younger cousin Ben comes to visit because of trouble at home and together the two get into teenage boy shenanigans; flesh will be bruised and penises will be waved and they'll test the water of Becoming A Man by dipping a toe in something they're ill prepared for, right up over their heads. 

The dynamic between my cousin and I was somewhat different (I was the older one) but nevertheless King Jack still captures something awfully honest about this time in "A Boy's Life" and this kind of relationship and those furtive first steps. The hormonal push and pull between running away scared and finding a toughness, a solidarity, a maturity. It captures it well enough that by the end it transcends that uncanniness I'd been feeling about my cousin - the box I was prepared to put the experience in opened up, and uncovered a sense memory of the more universal sort.

Charlie Plummer gives a terrific, surprisingly pulled-in performance as Jack - he's not quite ready to leap off the cliff of bravado yet, he keeps getting beaten down, but it's in there peeking out and you can see in a couple of years that he'll be a bigger personality than he's capable of right now. Once that full flood force of testosterone takes over and the spindly little muscles he's already flaunting actually take form, watch out. And yet it's Jack's tenderness that the film explores, and ultimately rewards - it might just document the precise moment when we see Jack will use his powers for good; for making his little slice a better place. May we all learn alongside Jack, then.

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