No clever segue. I actually don’t even know what this movie is. The only reason why I know it exists is because I was checking my local cinemas for upcoming movies. I never even got a trailer for this. All I know about it is that it’s based on a novel.

The story looks like it’s about a trio of kid brothers who have a pair of parents that fight a lot, and the father walks out on them.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Evan Rosado (making his acting debut; congrats, young man), Sheila Vand (WHISKY TANGO FOXTROT [2016], and upcoming films VIPER CLUB [2018] and HIGHWAY [2018]), Raúl Castillo (UNSANE [2018], and upcoming films IGILBERT [2018] and EL CHICANO [2018]), Josiah Gabriel (stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of), and Isaiah Kristian (making his acting debut; congrats, young man).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have Jeremiah Zagar, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. Zagar’s partner-in-pen is Daniel Kitrosser, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Nick Zammuto, making his feature-film debut. Congrats, sir. The cinematographer is Zak Mulligan, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. Finally, co-editing are Keiko Deguchi (stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of) and Brian A. Kates (HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES [2018] and NORMAN [2017]).

Overall, this looks like it could be good. I should probably expect a little heartbreak, considering the subject matter. I generally enjoy movies that are about a little slice of life, so I think I’ll like it fine. I get the feeling it won’t be great, but good is good enough for me.

This is my honest opinion of: WE THE ANIMALS

 

(SUMMARY)

Three kid brothers, Manny (Isaiah Kristian), Joel (Josiah Gabriel), and Jonah (Evan Rosado) navigate through their life with their dysfunctional parents.

(REVIEW)

Awe man… this movie had me, then it lost me.

So, as I previously mentioned, I actually like movies that are a little slice of everyday life. A little peak into a reality that many of us may not always remember exists. A movie like this should really have been up my alley. And for the first half, it really is. You have some unruly kids running around without an escort, living in a cheap home with a pair of dysfunctional parents. They go swimming, learn how to swim, ride their bikes off the pier, it’s not half bad. There’s a nice blend of infighting, loving and caring, all the complexities that a family like this, with personalities like theirs, would have. Of course, the dad (Raúl Castillo) up and leaves and then things spiral out of control. Mom (Sheila Vand) refuses to get out of bed, cook for her kids, so they get worse by stealing from convenient stores, hang out with an equally bad delinquent named Dustin (can’t find the name of the young actor) who smokes, drinks, and watches porn.

However, by the time their dad comes back into the picture, the movie starts to stagnate. The parents seem to be on loving terms again, and the boys seem to be doing better, but… then a strange combination of hard right turns and monotony takes hold. One would think now that the father’s back and the parents aren’t fighting nearly as much that the kids would be reined in. Except, nope, their unruliness seems to get worse. Manny and Joel take up drinking and smoking, they start throwing rocks at random cars and threaten adults, even go so far as to practically assault their own father (not quite how I’m making it sound, but it’s not as exaggerated either).

There’s even a ham-fisted insertion of Jonah having a homosexual awakening that comes out of nowhere and leaves the story almost as quickly as it’s introduced. I think I know what the snobs will tell me. He watched porn with his brothers and even gay porn. It stuck with him and affected him, hence that kiss he shares with Dustin later, but you could literally watch the entire movie without those scenes and not only will the movie be a tad shorter, but nothing would be lost. Hey, I’m not saying kids can’t know their sexual orientation at ten years old. I may not have all the experience in the world with that, but I’m going to assume it’s possible. I’m also not going to say that I don’t approve of a middle finger to American film conventions. If you want to make a movie about kids who know they’re gay, then go ahead and make that movie. Make those conservative parents and general movie-goers squirm in their seats uncomfortably. I’m all for it and wholly support it. But here’s the thing: it has to serve the narrative. This was toted as a movie about childhood in a broken home with brothers, and little kids getting exposed to things at the wrong-ass times in their lives. This is not CALL ME BY YOUR NAME or BEACH RATS. This is not about a ten year old’s struggles with his sexual orientation. It’s about a kid who struggles with what’s right and wrong in a home that fails to teach him. I give Rosado credit, that’s a brave move and artistically puts him ahead of a lot of kids his age in the acting world, but this brief and underdeveloped subplot is unnecessary as hell.

Overall, I can’t say that I hate this movie, but by the time the second half rolls around, I was either confused, or bored. It got to the point where this movie felt like it was three hours long and it’s only a hour and a half. The acting may be good, even surprisingly good, which probably saves the movie quite a bit of face. And I hope all the best for the cast to go on to do bigger and better things, but the operative word here is “better.” The story itself is repetitive, boring, sometimes senseless, and loses a whole lot of traction. As a recommendation, I have no idea. Viewer beware. That’s what I’ll say. Save it for a rental. The kids may have wanted less work and noise, but I wanted more… of anything.

My honest rating for WE THE ANIMALS: a weak 3/5

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