It’s been more than a few years since the timeless Boy Meets World made its rounds on family’s TVs across the country. The 90s parents and kids still remember growing up intertwined in Corey and Topanga’s heartwarming love saga. For a full seven seasons the same actors and actresses underwent the trials of boyhood with Corey from an early age through marriage.
Now a new movie explores the same concept of family drama—or more so, how it has changed.
“Boyhood,” a 2014 Richard Linklater-directed Sundance film previously titled “12 Years,” takes a riskier, eye-opening approach to the coming-of-age concept of boyhood. While Boy Meets World episodes were planned and filtered for a family-friendly image of the perfect 90s ideal, “Boyhood” filmed the same crew with little funding for only three to four days once each year. Its tale focuses on Mason, played by actor Ellar Coltrane at the early age of 7 all the way till age 18. With an already-crafted script, Linklater followed Mason’s life all the way to his first year of college, spotlighting the family’s trek to survive and its influence on Mason’s life. This independent film lets the not-so-extraordinary yet humorous moments of boyhood blister into the all too common dysfunctional moments of divorce and crisis that comes with growing up within a twenty-first century family.
It’s quite a scene change from Boy Meets World. So the question stands, who wants to pay for a night to see the darker memories from their childhood displayed on a big screen, anyways?
But the bravery in the idea in itself is what makes “Boyhood” extraordinary. The honesty invested in the film is sky-rocketing the box office. Linklater paints recognizable scenes of people growing up in America, but without lending any one moment too much of its own attention. He lets the moment speak abruptly for itself. Filmed through the eyes of a kid that doesn’t know any better, “Boyhood” becomes a movie that’s impossible to watch without a knot of understanding forming for what it takes to grow up in this generation.
Linklater successfully doesn’t paint the concept of boyhood too dramatic or unbelievable, nor does he hook happy ever after sentiments for Mason over the years. He lets the honesty grip the audience—sometimes with a lump in their throat—while the film goes on, as simply as life does. He leaves the characters unresolved and in cliffhangers. This is, incidentally, exactly how each of us grew up and will continue to grow up. But by filming it like this, the movie leaves the audience knowing exactly why he ended up the way he did.
Thus it also leaves audience members with a chance to evaluate their own growth.
This is probably why “Boyhood” went from a Sundance film to a movie critics continue to be impressed by. It is geared to audiences of all ages—everyone recognizes Mason’s vulnerability. There’s moments when children can say nothing but the truth, and Boyhood achieves an evolution of a more realistic—even if uncomfortable—picture of a child. Movies typically tend to stray away from this life-like portrait, but Linklater embraces it head on.
“Boyhood” is definitely worth the drive to Birmingham or any nearby independent film theater. It’s unforgettable nature is a reminder that childhood has its impact—both good and bad.

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