(Air Date: Week Of 05/22/96)
A Boy Called Hate tries for a gritty, straight from the hip delivery that transports you into life on the edge. We get deteriorating tract homes, sleazy bars, service station bathrooms, and the open road, punctuated by headlights gleaming in the dark, and the grind and whirr of motors. Unfortunately, no real feeling emerges from all the atmosphere, and some dubious character development seems to've been tossed in at the last minute because somebody said a movie should have some.
Steve, the young, misfit hero is played by Scott Caan, the real-life son of James Caan, not that you'd have to be told-- he's the spittin' image of the ol' man. In fact, Caan, Senior, actually plays his father-- alchoholic, out-of-work, and out-of- patience with his out-of-control son. If he were the main character, he would be A Father Called Hopeless. The film gets its name from a scene following a father/son clash, where the son cuts the word HATE, into his forearm with a razor blade.
The movie works up a little steam when Steve finds himself riding the open road on his motorcycle, with a shapely, red-headed, girl named Cindy hanging on behind him. They connect in the middle of the desert when he saves her from being raped by a jerk played by-- guess who-- Elliott Gould. Long time, no see. Any way, our hero shoots him, and he and the girl take off through the desert, one step ahead of the law, in the tradition of Badlands, and, more recently, Thelma and Louise.
There are a few fun moments -- at a gas station, the couple abandon the motorcycle, and duck into the back of a big semi truck just as the cops pull up. Unfortunately, the love interest that develops between the fugitives is so contrived that you wish they wouldn't bother. Initially, she's cold and contemptuous-- A Girl Called Attitude. But next thing you know, she's falling in love. Oh, well, she has to follow the script, right?
At a remote desert bar, they come across Billy Little Plume, played by Adam Beach, who abets their escape for a while. If you can imagine an especially manic Jack Nicholson as a young, Native American, that's him. He's colorful, larger than life, and sort of annoying-- A Native American Called Over the Top.
Somehow the mishmash of intergenerational conflict, highway adventures, and limp romance don't jell into into anything watchable. Just think of A Boy Called Hate as A Film Called Missable.
Copyright 1996 Mary Weems
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