Twelve-year-old Steven Lidz (Watt) lives a pleasant if unexceptional sort of life in early '60s suburban LA. Dad (Turturro) is a boffin, whose family input consists largely of unusual labour-saving inventions; mom (MacDowell) takes care of home and isn't averse to the occasional ciggie. Cancer duly strikes, dad can't cope with both a dying wife and the demands of his kids, and Steven runs away to live with his uncles Danny and Arthur in the city. Under their diligent tutelage, he's soon changed his name to Franz, trawls the city sewers for collectable objects, and has caught religion. Cue worried parents. Keaton's first feature is a highly enjoyable, predictably wacky family drama. The zestful direction captures the kid's-eye-view wonderfully, and the performances are exemplary. If the film succeeds, though, it's primarily thanks to the strength of Richard LaGravenese's script (from a novel by Franz Lidz); some of the most endearing moments recall the Gothic abandon of his earlier The Fisher King. A film to be enjoyed for its numerous surface charms - above all, the gloriously paranoiac Danny's broadside against Steven's odious rival for class president.
Cast and crew