Monkey Reviews

Through the Eyes of A Chimp

Monkey Reviews
March 26, 2007
12 & Holding: Chimp Comes of Age

There are plenty of movies that fall under the genre “Coming of Age”. I tend to be drawn to this genre but it’s hard to find ones that don’t resort to “cutesy”, sentimental or melo-drama. To capture what it means “to come of age” is not an easy thing. I think what makes it work, when it does work, is a willingness to walk the tight rope where on the one side we catch a glimpse of the innocence of the 12 year old imagination and on the other side we feel like we’re falling into the unknown and uncertain world of changes that often feel devastating and life-shattering. How to do that without becoming a drama-queen is surely a fine art that is rare to see.

“12 & Holding” is such a movie, in my opinion – not an opinion shared by all, btw. At first you wonder if it’s a movie merely following the path of humour, filled with antics and characters that share a close resemblance to the characters of Stand By Me. But after the first couple of scenes you begin to realize that the comedic moments dovetail seamlessly with tragic elements and a darker tale begins to unravel.

What happens to these four friends is truly tragic, yet accidental. Yet somehow the occurrence of this one event puts each character into their own unique isolated tailspin that often feels out of control, suspenseful and like life, at that age, the journey is definitely full speed ahead. A journey that is full of instinct, chaos and a discovery of something new; something inside that is emerging without the luxury of adult reflection or restraint.

While the movie is full of moments that seem far-fetched and hard to believe would happen in “the real world” it works and perhaps the reason it works is that the movie stays true to the perspective of the 12-year old imagination where restrictions are not yet taken into consideration. The adult voice never slips in and takes over the story-telling and I think it’s this that keeps the movie honest; it’s this that keeps it from becoming just another “family film” where all things end up neatly and sensibly wrapped up. Speaking of adults, the adults are definitely present in this movie but are no less screwed up. They too have a response to the same tragedy that also mirror chaos and instinct and the actions of the adolescents only make sense given the environment they grow up in. Where the storyline really delves deeply is how the adult and adolescent worlds parallel one another without feeling contrived.

Chimp recommends “12 & Holding” for both it’s honesty, ambiguity and unpredictability. Chimp also gives it two digits up because of the lack of Hollywood flavour. Without sounding pretentious “12 & Holding” definitely has an “indie” feel.