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Why “Boyhood” is not as good as you’ve heard

“Boyhood” lured me in.

The film opens with the song “Yellow” by Coldplay, which is perhaps my favorite song of all time and I was quickly put in a good mood.


Yet this film, despite receiving incredible amounts of critical praise and award nominations, is not anything to write home about. I love Richard Linklater’s work, so I was really bummed when I found myself falling asleep during certain scenes.

It’s really cool that it was filmed over 12 years with the same cast. It’s a feat of filmmaking that brought entirely new definitions of realness and authenticity to the industry. It was something that has never been done before. The cinematography of the film was beautiful — it was similar to watching a photographic exposure of a young man growing up, if that exposure was two hours and 46 minutes long.

Time was perhaps the biggest downfall of this film. It was simply way too long. Anything over two and a half hours is too long, but films like “Lord of the Rings,” “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Gone With the Wind” can take that extra time because of their exciting and well-developed plot lines. “Boyhood” is a conventional coming of age story that is stretched out over a ridiculous period of time. People have accepted its length because of the innovative idea of the cast growing together over 12 years.

Again, it’s a great idea, but it does not translate well to the screen.

The abusive alcoholic husband, the “fun” but distant father, the loving single mom who is doing the best for her kids — these are all important aspects of the plot, but they do not really help in delivering any kind of new or unique story lines to help this movie keep up the pace. Every aspect of this film could have been condensed into two hours. At most. Sure, the length helped flesh out the characters, but when you already know their tropes so well, it is hard to justify the film’s extension.

You are also being constantly reminded of the time periods that are covered in the movie. Cultural references range from Britney Spears to Dragonball Z, “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” to Soulja Boy (Why? Why Soulja Boy?). Remarks about the “Twilight” books are made and a little girl sings “We’re All in This Together” from “High School Musical.”

While I appreciated the nostalgia I felt watching these scenes, it took me so far out of the movie. It felt as though Linklater was jumping up and down yelling “We filmed this over 12 years! Look! It’s 2003! Now it’s 2008!”

Another overrated feature of this film is the acting. I do not understand the praise that Patricia Arquette (or any of the actors, really) has received at all. It goes back to the idea that these characters are not very deep or particularly interesting. While it can be nice to see a relatable, everyday film, it does not make for good character development, and thus, does not allow for innovative characters.


Arquette’s performance as a mom was believable and heartfelt, but compare that to the other best supporting actress nominees and it is hardly impressive or award worthy. In particular, Keira Knightley gave an incredibly beautiful performance as the talented and strong Joan Clarke in “The Imitation Game.” Emma Stone and Laura Dern also gave memorable performances in “Birdman” and “Wild,” respectively.

“Boyhood” is highly overrated. When compared with the other films in the Best Picture category, it may seem like an incredible feat of filmmaking, but as a film on its own, it does not come close to the other nominees.

If you are looking for an “honest” depiction of the film, check out the Honest Trailer on YouTube. It’s definitely on point.

Collegian A&E Writer Aubrey Shanahan can be reached at or on Twitter @aubs926.

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