R | 112 min | Drama, MusicReview - Matt Mungle - @themungle
In theaters May 8th.
If Step Up and Goodwill Hunting had a baby it would look a lot like BRAVETOWN. Part dance movie, part post war healing this film has a little bit of everything and manages to pull of some strong emotional moments. Just not exactly sure who it's for.
Josh (Lucas Till) is a troubled teen from NY who spends most of his time DJ'ing dance clubs. He is somewhat of a phenom and on the rise to be one of the best. After a run in with the law and the court system he is sent to live in a small anywhere USA town with the father (Tom Everett Scott) he never knew. His punishment also includes weekly therapy sessions with a court appointed shrink, Alex. (Josh Duhamel).
As luck would have it the small high school he now attends has a horrible dance team looking for that one element to make them great.. a talented DJ. Question is will Josh open himself up enough to help others? Probably.
Josh is one of those kids you want to see get his head on straight. His mom (Maria Bello) is a piece of work who never really gave him anything positive. His dad left him. He has been on his own since he was a youngster. Till does a standout job of bringing multi-dimensions to the character. He is closed off and aloof most of the time but comes alive whenever he gets behind the turntables. You can tell he truly wants to let people in and feel something but is far too afraid. It is that likability that keeps you invested in the film.
There would be enough of a story if it revolved around Josh and the rag tag dance troupe. Seeing them bring him out of his shell would be a pretty solid payoff. But the heart of the film also lies in the relationship he has with a family there who lost a son in the war. It is a family torn apart and dealing with their own hurt and struggles. Alex may hold the key to helping them mend if only Josh can get him to talk about what is really going on.
Needless to say there are a lot of story arcs weaved throughout. This gives depth but also leaves unresolved questions in its wake. For one when we meet Josh's dad he is not the character his mom painted him to be. But they never go back and visit that. Maybe it is because Tom Everett Scott is such an endearing guy that it is hard to think of him as a loser. You get the idea that he would have been there for Josh given the chance.
The film would be a great watch for high schoolers due to the young characters and the dance numbers. There is plenty of teen angst and romance buzzing around. But the R rating will keep many from experiencing it. And while the older audiences can handle the adult themes and may appreciate the focus on war torn families they will have to suffer through all the teenage antics and dance choreography. So it is two films in one and not sure what it wants to be.
The cast does a splendid job. Laura Dern is also in this as a mom grieving her son's death. She has two other kids that are trying to keep the family together. One of those kids is played by Jae Head who first one us over as the outgoing youngster in THE BLINDSIDE. He again tackles this role with gusto and you love him from the start.
BRAVETOWN is Rated R for some language, drug use and brief sexuality. It is a hard one to recommend for families due to the language and themes. As mentioned it is split between two audiences. I would be more apt to say see it then don't.I give it 3 out of 5 bass drops. It has a powerful story and the acting/cast is spot on. I think if older viewers are willing to stomach the few dance moments they will be able to get into the strong message of healing and forgiveness.