Review: Childstar

The main reason I went to see Childstar was because Jennifer Jason Leigh was in it. The review said something about it being a movie about a Macaulay Culkin-esque child actor who is abducted.

Really, though, this film is about the Hollywood exploitation of child actors.

But I’m not sure what the ultimate message is, and that is probably the main weakness of the film. In the end, I wasn’t sure whether it was more a critique of the movie-making process or a argument against using child actors in films… and if it was about child actors, it’s rather ironic that in order to make the film, the filmmaker had to exploit the actor who played the child actor (Mark Rendall, who was amazing “for a kid”).

The story itself was rather uninteresting. The kid actor is cast in a joke-of-a-movie about the first son (which the kid plays). His dad, the president, is kidnapped by “European terrorists” (who are funny). Since his dad is gone, the first son has to be “the man of the house,” which, apparently, involves taking on the terrorists single-handedly and saving his dad. (The movie itself doesn’t show the sub-movie in its entirety — we are briefed about the plot in the opening when some agency is pitching it to a production company.)

What I found most interesting were the rather intertextual themes of the movie. The fact that it was a movie about a movie was pretty interesting and meta. I also liked the fact that one of the main characters was the driver for the kid actor and that the driver was also an aspiring director… and the fact that that character was also the director/writer of the film, Don McKellar. I just loved the fact that the director played a driver who was a wannabe director.

Also, I must add, that I’m always terribly delighted whenever Jennifer Jason Leigh is on the screen. Yes, she pretty much always plays the same role (kinda neurotic, possibly substance-abusing, etc.). She plays the kid actor’s mother in the movie and seems to be exploiting him pretty hardcore… plus, she hooks up with the driver, which is just weird.

Overall, I gave the movie a 4/5. In retrospect, it was probably more of a 3, but oh well. I also liked that it was Canadian.

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