ON THE SILVER SCREEN: "PATRIK, AGE 1.5" OVERCOMES FORMULAIC SCRIPT WITH ROMANCE, HUMOR, AND FINE ACTING

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By Brian Lafferty

 

August 22, 2010 (San Diego)--Patrik, Age 1.5 is formulaic, super-sweet, and very sentimental but I liked it. The movie opened on Friday and is playing at the Ken Cinema until Thursday. I found the structure to be overly predictable and some of the song choices questionable and gag-inducing but it was to me a worthwhile cinematic experience.

 

The movie begins with Goran and Sven, a newlywed gay couple, moving into a nice suburban neighborhood where the kids play, barbecues are held, and the yards are neatly kept. They want a child and, even though they are cleared for adoption, there is no country willing to let a gay couple adopt. After their persistence, strings are pulled and they are happy to learn they will adopt a boy named Patrik who they think is a year and a half old; the document lists his age as 1.5.

 

Unfortunately, that happens to be a clerical error. Not only is Patrik not a year and a half old but he is fifteen (the decimal point was put in the wrong place), a juvenile delinquent, and, to top it all off, a homophobe.

 

Despite the perhaps unseemly portrait I have just painted of Patrik, he is a very likable character. It took me a while to realize why I not only found him winsome but also why I found him sympathetic. His feelings about gays is not based on hatred but fear and misconception. For one thing he equates homosexuality with pedophilia. When the couple learns about his violent past they take him to the police station but unfortunately for both parties, there is nothing that can be done. Patrik tells the officer, “If I get raped it will be on your head.”  The line is funny and works because of both the handling of the material and the context.

 

Writer/director Ella Lemhagen imparts a neutral point of view on homosexuality. She doesn’t grandstand, leaving her soapbox at the door and doesn’t take a position. Sven and Goran do face some slight intolerance mostly from Patrik and the little kids in the neighborhood who don’t know any better as well as the adults who have an awkward difficulty acclimating to their “unusual” new neighbors. This is in addition to the same trials and tribulations they face as do heterosexual couples, including arguing, separation, among other marital problems.

 

I could see every plot point coming at least fifty miles away but I couldn’t fault the filmmakers for that. I knew that Sven and Goran would get together, that the kid would change his attitude, and virtually everything else that happened. Anybody who has ever seen a romantic comedy will get no prizes for guessing everything that happens.

 

So why am I recommending such a formulaic movie? Because as predictable as it is, it is never boring. The characters are interesting and the movie looks good. The colors are saturated, with pastel houses, blue skies, green grass, and beautiful flowers in every garden. The acting is above-average. I liked some of the music choices, particularly the use of Three Dog Night’s “Shambala” in a couple of scenes. Some were not so good, especially the song at the very end when Sven and Goran get back together. But the main reason I’m recommending it is because, unlike most romantic comedies this year, it is both romantic and funny.