12 and Holding is a powerful, engaging film that presents a more honest look at childhood than anything I’ve seen for years. It’s about a small group of young kids, each of them dealing with some difficult issues that arise from things happening at home (or not happening at home). There’s a fat kid trying to lose weight, a lonely girl looking for a father figure, and another guy dealing with a death in the family (which could be Stand By Me but with none of the soft focus nostalgia).
It’s difficult not to immediately care about these kids because their reactions are so genuine. Except for maybe one small detail, everything that happens seems plausible, which only heightens the drama as all the stories come together in the end. Parents should watch 12 and Holding as a realistic reminder that, yeah, sometimes childhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Watching The Hurt Locker is a nervous experience. It’s about an American explosive ordnance disposal team in Iraq. They defuse bombs. Big ones. That’s bad enough. But half the time they don’t know if the bomb has a timer; if one of the civilian spectators in the neighbourhood has a remote to set off the bomb; if a sniper is going to shoot at them; if some extremist is going to drive through the road block and blow everybody to kingdom come; or if some friendly Iraqi is going to walk up while all this is going on and say, “Hey, guys, where are you from?” Bad timing Mr. Friendly Iraqi. It’s just one intense situation after another, and it’s their job. It’s what they do every day. Within the first two minutes of The Hurt Locker, I felt like I was wearing the bomb suit, standing next to the bomb that’s ready to blow. The movie is pretty damn affective at making that reality real. It’s crazy.
Edward Havens writes: “To call The Hurt Locker anything less than one of the best action films to make it to the screen in many years would be a true disservice to its director, actors and technicians who made a movie that is miles above any recent movie it might be compared to.” The Hurt Locker is a high-octane action movie that relies on the psychological tension of the situations to create a rush that’s almost unbearable at times, and does so without being exploitive or glorifying. It’s a good movie.
UPDATE (July 09/09): As part of a marketing strategy, the first 8 minutes of The Hurt Locker have been made available online. It’s an intense 8 minutes that sets the tone for the rest of the movie, but watching it on a computer screen will diminish the theatrical experience. It also gives away too much.