Standing Up Blu-ray Review
1984. We find 12-year old Grace (Basso) on a bus heading for camp. While she rides she ponders the story of the first monkey Russia launched in space. The Russian’s said they knew that after a few weeks the monkey would die due to the intense heat felt when so close to the sun. However, they felt the monkey was special enough to send off. Grace feels like a monkey.
Howie and some pals from his camp have taken a canoe over to a small island. They pass a canoe full of girls going the other way but Howie pays no attention. When they disembark he’s sent to find wood for a fire. Suddenly, the other boys attack him, steal his clothes, underwear and all, and paddle off, leaving him to fend for himself. He stumbles onto an old storage building and goes inside to get out of the cold. But he finds he’s not alone. Howie, meet Grace.
A cute tale about standing up to bullies and making true friends, STANDING UP details Howie and Grace’s adventure as they strive to survive on their own without returning to camp. When Grace suggests they call their parents Howie tells her that his are in Greece (they’re both archeologists). Grace’s single mom (Radha Mitchell) is working…she has agreed to travel with Grace after camp but wants her to get to know kids her own age. Grace calls her mom but only tells her half of the story. But it’s enough to get her to promise to come visit in a couple days for Parents Day. Still, there are a couple days to kill for Howie and Grace but they do their best to make the best of them.
The film is based on a children’s novel called “The Goats.” The name applies to Howie and Grace, as the island they are left on is called Goat Island. Though meant to give kids a message of self importance and believing in yourself, there are also some downright creepy moments in it. When the two children sneak into another kids camp, one of the boys shows interest in Grace at a camp dance. Soon he’s rubbing her butt and forcing kisses on her. Of course, this gives Howie a chance to come to Grace’s rescue, but the image of the older boy putting the moves on a child is pretty off putting. Adding to the creepy factor is a five minute cameo by Val Kilmer. He picks the kids up hitchhiking and loads them into the back of his truck, where the inside door handles have been removed. Both the kids and the audience don’t know what’s going to happen next but the images that went through mine, thankfully, didn’t come true.
The two leads are quite good in their roles, giving performances that belie their youth. Mitchell is strong as the mother who finally realizes she’s needed as are a couple of the kids that befriend Howie and Grace at the other camp. The screenplay has some fun moments, though a reference to “comedian” Carrot Top is about six years premature, as is a reference one of the young campers makes to the end of AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN. The child would have had to have been ten years old when she saw it.
Director Caruso, who has done some fine feature work (DISTURBIA, EAGLE EYE) gives the film a smooth pace and makes sure to take advantage of the beautiful North Carolina countryside.
STANDING UP BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in its original 2:39.1 aspect ratio, the film is sharp and clear. There are some beautiful scenes of waterfalls and forests and they jump off the screen.
Audio: The film is presented in DTS Master Audio 5.1. The dialogue is clean and the accompanying musical score does not overwhelm it.
Making of “Standing Up” (6:32): A brief featurette featuring interviews with the cast and crew. My favorite part: when young Chandler Canterbury looks into the camera and says, “What attracted me to the project was the great script,” which I’ve learned in all of my years of doing interviews is “Actor-Speak 101.”