Grief is a fickle and demanding companion. And it can inspire really lame movies that cheapen our very understanding of grief, or it can inspire movies that richly explore the complicated relationship between fickle, demanding grief and frail yet resilient human beings. Thankfully, The Boys Are Back is a lovely example of the latter.

Inspired by Simon Carr's 2001 memoir, The Boys Are Back in Town, this film tells the story of witty, on-the-go sportswriter Joe Warr (Clive Owen) and the way grief shapes him and his two boys. Due to divorce and remarriage, Joe has sons on two continents—his homeland of England and his current home in the beautiful Australian countryside. Though he loves both boys, Joe rarely sees either due to his constant work travels.

Days after returning from another trip, his world is rocked when his wife Katy (Laura Fraser) collapses in the middle of a cocktail party. It's an aggressive cancer that steals her away within weeks. Joe is left to help their six-year-old son, Artie (Nicholas McAnulty), who doesn't quite grasp the gravity of the situation, navigate this loss even as Joe struggles to do so himself.  

Despite protests from his play-it-safe mother-in-law (Julia Blake), Joe decides a road trip is in order. He needs to escape—and get better acquainted with his son. So he packs up Artie and Artie's favorite stuffed monkey in their Range Rover and drives to a succession of lonely hotel rooms, trying to evade the grief that follows them like a dark shadow.

Both on the road and back at home, Joe gets better acquainted with single fatherhood—the constancy of dirty dishes and dirty clothes (which he largely ignores) and the non-stop energy of a precocious six-year-old (which feels like a ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

The Boys Are Back
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
(3 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for some sexual language and thematic elements)
Directed By
Scott Hicks
Run Time
1 hour 44 minutes
Clive Owen, Emma Booth, Laura Fraser
Theatre Release
November 12, 2009 by Miramax Films
Browse All Movie Reviews By: