With this being his first post-‘Potter’ effort, viewers might expect to see newly angular Daniel Radcliffe making an effort to lose those stifling Hogwarts robes and assure his fan base that he’s not headed down the same precipitous career path that threatens even the most talented of child stars. Set in Australia in the ’60s, Misty, Maps, Spark and Spit are four orphaned scamps known as the December Boys for the odd reason that they were all born in December. When their orphanage receives an unexpected cash windfall, they’re packed off on holiday to the coastal idyll of Lady Star Cove where they fall in with the lovably eccentric locals. Misty overhears the plans of one couple (a daredevil stunt driver and his buxom French wife, no less) to adopt one of the boys before they leave, and so the film dutifully subverts the delicate process of adoption into a must-win struggle for maternal acceptance (sample dialogue: ‘We’ll just line ’em up and pick the best one!’).
With its series of tonally awkward plot developments which seem to have been engineered specifically to meet Radcliffe’s various portfolio needs, the best that could be said of this lazy ‘Stand By Me’ lookalike is that the actor’s next move should be to talk to his agent. If, however, you merely want to revel at the sight of Radcliffe smoking rollies and prancing around in a tight T-shirt, ‘December Boys’ works just fine.