Title: Standing Up
Directed by: DJ Caruso
Starring: Chandler Canterbury, Annalise Basso, Radha Mitchell, Kate Maberly, Val Kilmer
Running Time: 1 hour 33 minutes, Rated PG, also available on VOD
Special Features: Behind the Scenes Featurette & Trailer
Based on the acclaimed young adult novel “The Goats” by Brock Cole is the story of two 12 year old kids who run away from a traumatic experience.
Grace and Howie remember going to camp in the summer of 1984, and where they were both targeted by the other campers to be stripped of their clothes and stranded on “Goat Island” across the lake. This is a long standing tradition at the camp. Howie decides to not allow their tormentors the satisfaction of seeing their humiliation, so he asks Grace to swim ashore with him and go on the run. They steal some clothes and while avoiding capture from the cops and apologetic camp counselor, have to blend in with campers at a rival diversity camp, where the kids are actually nice and accepting towards the two. At a dance, Grace becomes the object of Butch’s (Justin Tinucci) desire and makes a move on her that she’s not ready for, and Howie comes to her rescue, standing up to the bully like he wished he could do back on the island. Howie learns that one of the campers named Calvin (Adrian Kali Turner) is abused by his father, and they both wish they had an older brother to protect them. Meanwhile in the girls cabin, Tiwana (Alexus Lapri Geier) and Lydia (Deidra Shores) play big sisters to Grace, giving her advice on boys and to call her mother.
With nowhere to go, the two decide to try to sneak into a motel for the night while they travel back towards their dreaded camp to meet up with Grace’s mother. Grace pretends to be an employee at the hotel and gets a key from a family trying to make a quick getaway. Grace shares with Howie some intimate details about her life and they both realize they’re awkward tweens in a hotel room sharing a bed together. They make a internal mature decision not to act on any impulses. The next day they’re picked up by Hofstadder (Val Kilmer) who is a plain clothed sheriffs deputy who makes lurid accusations of the two and says he’s going to arrest them. While he’s making a phone call to the Sheriff, the kids steal his truck to a cliff and jump into the water.
Grace calls her mother again, begging her to take both of them home. Grace’s mom (Radha Mitchell) informs Grace of the truth about Howie’s past and the two argue when she tells him her mother is still taking him home with them and he knows it’s a lie. They make up and acknowledge that they needed this adventure to break free of their timid former selves and grow into the stronger and wiser young adults.
I think the actors would have had a better grasp of the characters had they read the novel of which this film was based. From the behind the scenes featurette, they responded to the script as if it were just a story about running away from a traumatic bullying event, when there was something much more than that. The film captured the basic elements of the original story, but there was definitely something missing when they candy coat it for young audiences. This is my second time viewing this film and I think my opinion about omitting key elements in the film was even more critical this time around. The film is good to start a discussion with young kids, but the book is so much better.
Total Rating: C
Reviewed by: JM Willis