By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
Whatever problems Stolen Summer may have encountered during the production process, as documented on the HBO reality series Project Greenlight, it doesn't feel like the disjointed outcome of a troubled shoot. For better or worse--plenty of both, in fact--it's a movie that has a coherent vision. It's a shame that vision just doesn't happen to be very interesting. Stolen Summer is yet another entry in the canon of first films about the filmmaker's own childhood, how wonderful and/or traumatic it was, especially the one summer that changed life as he knew it forever (the film even concludes with one of those "I learned something today" speeches so commonly lampooned on South Park). It's not a wholly irredeemable genre--Jason Alexander did OK with his 1999 entry, Just Looking--but there's a reason The Wonder Years doesn't grace network TV any more. Writer-director Pete Jones' protagonist, cleverly named Pete (Adi Stein), is a youngster determined to save his soul by converting a Jew to Jesus. Settling on the local rabbi's son (Mike Weinberg) who also happens to have leukemia, Pete sets out on a series of adventures that bring together his family and that of the rabbi, excellently played by Kevin Pollak. It's all predictably maudlin, but some fine acting work from Pollak, Aidan Quinn, Bonnie Hunt and the young leads render things watchable.
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