The Exploding Boy Image

The Exploding Boy

By Bobby LePire | April 20, 2024

Despite its title, The Exploding Boy is not a sci-fi or superhero flick. Instead, it’s a compelling coming-of-age drama, co-directed by Ian Southworth and screenwriter Monty Wolfe. The movie takes us on a journey into the life of a 16-year-old boy, grappling with his intense emotions. Will he find a way to manage his inner turmoil, or will his unexplained anger consume him?

Alex (Parris Bates) is a misfit at school, enduring bullying and harsh scrutiny at the hands of the hall monitor. His neighbors are quick to judge his every move, making a fuss over trivial matters like Alex not picking up his dog’s excrement the second the four-legged furry friend is done doing his business. At home, his father, Charles (Bradley Thomas Stephens), is a strict disciplinarian, constantly demeaning Alex and never trying to understand him. His mother, Anna (Adrienne Sparks), attempts to bridge the gap, but Alex remains distant.

Alex takes solace in the world of puppetry and filmmaking. He finds inspiration in old videos of Jim Henson teaching how to craft puppets. Then, a new student named Julius (Daniel Q. Taylor) enters the scene. Their instant connection, a beacon of hope in Alex’s life, marks a turning point. The boy who once responded to the hall monitor with mace is now bringing a friend home and finding joy in his days. As their bond deepens, their friendship blossoms into something more. But Julius harbors a secret that could disrupt their relationship, pushing Alex further into his shell and his anger.

“…Julius harbors a secret that could disrupt their relationship, pushing Alex further into his shell…”

The Exploding Boy starts off with the puppet short Alex is making. It stars a fox and a raccoon and is hilarious. While amusing, this opening doesn’t give off the real tone of the story. That comes in when Charles degrades the work. His mom likes it, though she asks what he’s trying to say with this art. Alex isn’t too sure. The thematic throughline of the lead coming out of his shell and seeing past his rage allows him to spark emotions in his project better. It’s subtle and sweet, much like the whole production.

Bates is quite good at being awkward and mad yet likable. Taylor makes his character’s quiet nature fit right in with Alex’s world while being more approachable and friendly. Stephens is absolutely hatable, as it should be. Sparks is brilliant as the doting mom at her wit’s end. Her subplot involving a gym class is compelling in its own right. Isis Eggleston plays a fellow student named Tatiana. She radiates charm and has a lovely singing voice.

The Exploding Boy is a sweet little film with an impactful ending. Yes, it hits the expected beats of a coming-of-age tale, but it uses them well and realistically. The cast is superb, and everyone gets at least one moment to shine.

For more information, visit the official The Exploding Boy site.

The Exploding Boy (2024)

Directed: Monty Wolfe, Ian Southworth

Written: Monty Wolfe

Starring: Parris Bates, Daniel Q. Taylor, Adrienne Sparks, Bradley Thomas Stephens, Isis Eggleston, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Exploding Boy Image

"…a sweet little film..."

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