Based on the classic Michael Noonan novel, “December Boys” is the mildly engaging story of four orphan teenagers growing up behind the closed doors of a Catholic convent in outback Australia during the 1960s.
Since the film is rather soft, predictable, and old-fashioned, the best marketing hook is the appearance of Daniel Radcliffe, star of the “Harry Potter” film franchise, but it’s doubtful whether he can really elevate the stature of the picture.
As the boys watch younger kids get adopted by loving families, they begin to realize that as they get older, their turn may never come. When the convent sends the boys to visit the seaside one summer, they finally have something to look forward to.
While at the seaside, the boys meet a young couple unable to have children, who would make the perfect parents. The eldest of the boys, Maps (Radcliffe), finds himself drawn to Lucy, a beautiful girl from down the coast. Competing to be the most adoptable, the rest of the boys, Spark (Christian Byers), Misty (Lee Cormie) and Spit (James Fraser), severely test their friendships as long gestating feelings of rejection explode to the surface.
The bonds of friendship eventually overcome the rivalries, sealing forever the strong ties that bind the December boys as they learn the real meaning behind friendship, family and love.
“December Boys” is directed in a pedestrian way by Rod Hardy, who might have been further limited by the obvious, unexciting adaptation of Marc Rosenberg of Noonan’s well-received novel (which I have not read).