2 out of 5 stars
One advantage a film like Bosch & Rockit has working for it is the use of the majestic coast of Australia as a backdrop. From the opening credits through to the predictable conclusion, director Tyler Atkins captures the essence of the beach community with his eye for the beautiful seaside. Along with the larrikin and lackadaisical attitude of the beach atmosphere, audiences can almost smell and taste the beach as if they were bathed in the waters themselves. Unfortunately, cinematography is only one critical element of cinematic productions. To rely on it to overcome the screenplay's weaknesses may not be enough to bring this story home.
Based on the true story written by Atkins, who chose to write the screenplay from the perspective of 13-year-old Rockit (Rasmus King) in the early 1990s. An era with no mobile phones or social media adds to the tension. Yet, the whole feel of the film has the perspective of an after-school special laden with enough foul language to make Quentin Tarantino uncomfortable. Rockit is a teenager who struggles in school and prefers to be surfing the day away. Yet, the one thing he desires more than anything is for his parents to get back together, which seems impossible. His father, Bosch (Luke Hemsworth), is a local marijuana farmer and has built a small empire dealing drugs in the local community. Until a bushfire destroys his business and causes him to go on the run from the authorities.
This leads the father to pack up his boy and head to Byron Bay with the hope of laying low until things calm down. As they sleep on and near the beach, Rockit sees it as an extended holiday, relishing the time surfing with his dad. Bosch gets distracted by a resident beauty named Deb (Isabel Lucas), who befriends the displaced pair. They all enjoy their time in the beach town until law enforcement catches up with them. Despite all they do to try and elude the police, things look like Bosch will be heading to prison, and Rockit will have to live with his alcoholic mother.
When asked what his film was meant to convey, Atkins said it is meant to ‘explore forgiveness, human connection, self-understanding, the depths of struggle and the powerful life-affirming effect of love.’ All topics that we love delving into at Reel Dialogue and these things all do come out within the storyline. Except it is all hindered since the writing comes from a teen’s perspective, and the whole film feels like a poorly written high school drama assignment. Each point of dialogue and use of language is reminiscent of being on the commuter train after school lets out for the day. The time filled with adolescent angst, overuse of foul language, and self-centered conversation leads to cringe-worthy moments meant to be tempered with beautiful scenery. .
Still, Rasmus King delivers a wonderful performance and captures the vision that Tyler Atkins tries to convey within the script. Then Luke Hemsworth does his best to travel through the multiple scenarios before the father/son duo. Beyond this relationship, every other character is a caricature of themselves. From the corrupt police to the teenage relationship to the negligent mother, nothing feels original, and most of these characters come off as one-dimensional. This might be due to a young screenwriter not knowing when to stop adding to the story. Especially since his young lead actor never ages physically, we are meant to accept that this film has occurred over many years. Despite being set in the 1990s, it is all thrown off from the opening sequence with Bosch driving a modern Mustang Cobra on the back roads of the coastline.
Bosch & Rockit fails to know its audience. Like the teenage lead, the film feels like it is being forced to be something it is not. Even though it is meant to be told from a teenager's perspective, the storyline is being compelled to grow up too fast, and things merely become awkward and disjointed.
REEL DIALOGUE: What does it mean to be a father to your children?
'Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.' Psalm 127:3-5
Bosch & Rockit is an example of how not to be a father. Still, the film bashs in the door on the importance of dads in their children's lives.
One aspect of fatherhood that tends to get overlooked is that it is not only a responsibility but also a privilege. Children are indeed a blessing. It can be hard to remember this during the early morning feedings or the latest car smash. Still, these incidental things should not diminish the gift that they are in our lives.
Fathers need to consider this opportunity an honour and do all that can be done to be the men our children need us to be. Some days are more complicated than others, but thankfully the Bible gives us the instruction manual to help to mold our children. Then prayer provides the comfort to watch over them in all situations.
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" - Joshua 24:15