‘Just Call Me Little Shogun’: Looking Back on 2010’s Boy (Spoilers Ahead)

A boy aspires to be greater than himself. He identifies someone whom he must equal and someone else whom he must be better than.

Director/screenwriter Taika Waititi’s 2010 feature film, Boy – barring the subjective synopsis above – is about looking for companionship, but never really regretting it when it isn’t there, in both of the above types of people.

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(centre-left and centre-right) Director/screenwriter/star Taika Waititi and star James Rolleston on the set of their 2010 feature film, Boy (BTLNews.com Photo and Caption)

Over the film’s eighty-seven minutes, director/screenwriter/star Taika Waititi implies/depicts that everyone is just looking for love and/or companionship (à la Boy’s attempts to woo Chardonnay and keep his father home; Dad/Shogun tries to include Boy in his gang and; Kingi tries to woo Chardonnay too).

In the context of Dad/Shogun, hero worship may not hide a person’s true nature for long (akin to how Boy eventually confronted Dad/Shogun and said that ‘I thought I was like you, but I’m not’ despite calling himself Little Shogun earlier); that and people seen as villainous may not be (like how the Weirdo befriends Rocky and saves Boy’s life).

That and people may cross each other to get ahead in life (as seen by Dad/Little Shogun’s Crazy Horse gang running off with his marijuana; Boy keeping Dad/Shogun’s secretly-recovered money for himself and; Dad/Shogun enlisting Boy to find marijuana and dig for his lost treasure).

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Director/screenwriter/star Taika Waititi prior to an interview with Zimbio.com for 2010’s Boy (Zimbio.com Photo and Caption)

All of the above said, the crisscrossing searches for companionship – the likes of Boy and Dad/Shogun; Boy and Chardonnay, and later his friends and; Rocky and Weirdo, given Boy’s apathy for Rocky – are the film’s most prominent feature.

These moments are assisted by the suitably sparse production design when the characters above are onscreen.

The film’s singular, barring the frequent Michael Jackson allusions, hero-worship focus is Dad/Shogun; he is the focus of Boy, Kingi and several other local boys’ admiration until they find him repugnant (à la Boy) or flee him due to false danger (à la Kingi’s brother).

Whilst Boy did use his secretly-discovered money to buy his friends ice blocks, Boy, Dad/Shogun and the Crazy Horse gang members often steal from each other to get ahead in life.

That and Boy nearly always abused Rocky as being ‘an egg’ to feel cool.

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(from left to right) Stars Te Aho Eketone-Whitu, James Rolleston and director/screenwriter/star Taika Waititi on the set of 2010’s Boy (2ndFirstLook.com Photo)

Much like 2007’s Eagle vs Shark, 2010’s Boy uses its sparse backdrops to focus on its characters and their quest for companionship, except with more inclination to exploit the supporting characters (and vice-versa) for gain.

Very simplistically, 2010’s Boy is a look at the quest for companionship often to the point of hero-worship as seen, with rewatchability, through a young boy’s eyes.

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Director/screenwriter/star Taika Waititi on the set of 2010’s Boy (BlackFilm.com Photo and Caption)

Director Taika Waititi’s Trademarks in 2010’s Boy:

  1. Appearance in the film: Director Waititi appears in this film as Dad/Shogun for most of the film.
  2. Stories about the need for companionship: Boy is either trying to befriend Chardonnay or plotting to escape with Dad/Shogun but stays with his friends and Dad/Shogun.
  3. Symmetrical cinematography: There are several shots in this film that rest the subject in the middle with symmetrical set decoration around them.

(Whilst the opinions and observations above are, unless stated otherwise, the author’s own, the following sources were used for information: BlackFilm.com, IMDb.com)

The Reverse-Screenwriters’ Club (Spoilers Ensue):

Plot: a young New Zealand boy tries to live up to his father’s legend.

Prologue: Boy introduces his class to his life, family and aspirations.

Act 1: Boy decides to fight Kingi over his insults to Boy’s mother; Boy agrees to serve detention.

Act 2: Boy decides to retrieve Rocky from his mother’s grave; Boy decides to serve the children dinner at home.

Act 3: Boy decides to approach the mystery car; Boy decides to greet his dad inside the car.

Act 4: Boy decides to invite his dad and his friends inside the house; Boy decides to accept his dad’s present.

Act 5: Boy decides to recount Dad’s ‘achievements‘ to Rocky; Boy and Dad decide to go for a drive.

Act 6: Boy decides to stay in town with his friends; Boy decides to go marijuana-harvesting with his friends.

Act 7: Boy decides to help his Dad hunt for his lost treasure; Boy decides to bring his father marijuana in the future.

Act 8: Boy decides to hang out with his Dad; Boy and Dad decide to go to the beach.

Act 9: Boy and Dad decide to return home for Dad’s gang get-together; Boy decides to stay at the party despite Rocky’s pleas otherwise.

Act 10: Boy decides to invite Chardonnay home; Boy decides to be lewd and disgusts her away.

Act 11: Boy decides to wait for Dad in the bar’s parking lot; Boy decides to speak to his friend nearby.

Act 12: Boy decides to chase his Dad as he drives away; Boy decides to keep hunting for Dad’s treasure.

Act 13: Boy decides to take the found cash back home; Boy buys ‘ice blocks‘ for his friends.

Act 14: Boy decides to try and scare off Kingi; Boy decides to face his father when he returns to town.

Act 15: Boy decides to accept Dad’s apology; Boy decides to melt the house’s copper to make up for the spent money.

Act 16: Boy decides to confess his theft of Dad’s treasure, unsuccessfully; Boy decides to accompany Dad on his marijuana harvest instead.

Act 17: Boy decides to wait in the bar’s parking lot again; Boy decides not to intervene when Dad is attacked by a rival gang.

Act 18: Boy and Rocky decide to track down their goat; Boy and Rocky decide to bury their dead goat at home.

Act 19: Boy decides to get drunk and smoke marijuana; Boy decides to explore town but falls off a bridge.

Act 20: Boy decides to return home after being saved from the river; Boy decides to confess his theft to Dad.

Act 21: Boy decides to clean up the house in the morning; Boy decides to receive his returned grandmother.

Act 22: Boy decides to visit his friends; Boy decides to approach his father waiting by his mother’s grave.

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