You may not have heard this before, but drugs are bad. If someone is using drugs like meth, it can have a harmful effect on the whole family. There, now you don’t have to see “Beautiful Boy.”
The movie is based on books published in 2008 by David Scheff (Steve Carrell) and his son, Nic (Timothee Chalomet), about the latter’s addiction to meth and other drugs and the former’s helplessness in trying to pull his kid out of his downward spiral.
You might be tempted to see “Beautiful Boy” because of Steve Carrell, but I don’t think he’s enough of a name to open a movie. As for Timothee Chalamet, he was nominated for an Oscar last year for “Call Me By Your Name,” but based on its domestic box office take of $18 million, most Americans didn’t see it and didn’t know he was considered the new It Boy in Hollywood. He’s rail thin, with an unruly mop of hair, and an appealing face. He gives a good performance that might get him nominated for another Oscar, but it won’t win a People’s Choice Award because The People won’t see this movie.
As soon as I heard the title of “Beautiful Boy,” I knew there would have to be a scene in which Carrell sings John Lennon’s song to Chalamet and, sure enough, there is. Watching it, I flashed back to a sequence in “Mr. Holland’s Opus” in which Richard Dreyfuss sings the same tune to his deaf teen son. Both scenes were designed to elicit tears from viewers, but my eyes stayed dry throughout.
Speaking of music, I can’t remember a soundtrack as overwrought as the one for “Beautiful Boy.” How overwrought? The most upbeat song is Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold.” Throughout, there’s way too much music used to add dramatic tension to scenes that go on too long, as if the director said, “I can’t just show Steve Carrell driving for five minutes. I have to have some electronic funeral dirge playing over it.” And there’s absolutely no reason that “Sunrise Sunset” shows up in the middle, in its entirety! It’s not even Topol from the “Fiddler On The Roof” movie or Zero Mostel version from the original Broadway original cast singing the song. Instead, director Felix Van Groeningen gives us a rendition by Perry Como. WTF?
The supporting cast includes Maura Tierney as Carrell’s wife (and mother of two cute kids) and Amy Ryan as his ex, Nic’s mother. There are also very small roles for Timothy Hutton as a doctor who teaches Carrell about meth addiction and LisaGay Hamilton as a mother who lost her child to an overdose.
I didn’t care about any of them, didn’t need a reminder about the dangers of methamphetamines, and felt bored by the pace of this sad tale unspooling slowly on the screen. I’m sure the actual circumstances were pure hell for both of the Scheffs, but they don’t make for a good movie.
I give “Beautiful Boy” a 3 out of 10.