An Indie Film that Families Can Watch Together: A Dozen Summers
A Dozen Summers: A Quirky Indie Movie
A Feelgood Indie Movie by Kenton Hall about Two 12 Year Old Sisters
If you have children, getting everybody to agree what film to watch can be a challenge. Having pre-teen daughters can make film viewing even trickier.
Although I don't have children myself, I am open to watch different types of movies and I was kindly given a review copy of A Dozen Summers, directed by Kenton Hall.
A Dozen Summers Reminds Me of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
If you are a fan of UK independent movies, you have probably watched Bend it like Beckham and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, both directed by Gurinder Chadha.
In Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging the theme of the awkwardness typical of pre-teenage years gets a family-friendly bashful comedic treatment, and so does A Dozen Summers. At times, A Dozen Summers has moments of comedic brilliance, while at others there's almost a feeling of being self-conscious – in other words, the film itself is not daring to push a few boundaries.
Those years before becoming a fully-fledged teenager can be rife with embarrassing moments, hours spent daydreaming and just plain randomness. If you add a spot of bullying in the mix, let's say that those are not very easy times for young boys and girls.
I was 12 years old once (I know, it was a long time ago), and although back then I was living in Italy, my parents thankfully weren't divorced and luckily I wasn't bullied by a classmate, however I still remember daydreaming and wishing the hours away while I was at school, and getting regular crushes on boys while being completely useless at speaking to them.
Visually, if you have watched My Mad Fat Diary, the UK TV adaptation of Rae Earl's books, you will notice some similarities in the opening scenes of A Dozen Summers, featuring some drawings, and a few of the scenes were reality and fantasy become blurred.
You will probably also see some connections with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so if you enjoyed that movie you are likely to enjoy A Dozen Summers too.
Kenton Hall stars as the father of two particularly creative girls, Maisie and Daisy (personally I wasn't overly keen on the nursery-rhyme quality of the lead characters' names). Kenton's daughters Hero and Scarlet play Daisy and Maisie respectively.
A Dozen Summers - Official Trailer
Doctor Who's Colin Baker is the Narrator
Unfortunately Colin Baker is quite underused in the film, but the narrator, who is firstly mistaken for a weirdo trying to film children in the playground, is the legendary actor Colin Baker, of Doctor Who fame. He played the Doctor between 1983 and 1986.
Talking about recognisable names, Ewen MacIntosh plays Gary, a shopkeeper – you may recognise him from the UK TV series The Office. Regrettably, he is also underused in the film, which is a shame.
It's Not Easy Being 12
If your children are 12 they might be experiencing something similar to what Maisie and Daisy go through – from early crushes to crushing bullying.
In the film, the drama elements are only touched upon: in fact, the whole movie has a very light touch about it, focusing more on comedy elements than more serious ones.
The bullies are like cartoon characters, the comedy is slapstick and the pay-off is quite predictable.
The divorced parents are also vaguely cartoonish, the father being a writer trying to make a living taking on a variety of low-paying odd jobs, while the mother is some kind of catalogue model (she is not a fashion model, therefore, she does not deserve to be called a “model”). Her main pastime seems to be collecting boyfriends.
It Looks like a Home Video – Maybe Because It Is
You can see that Hall strived to make a polished-looking indie film on very little money, and the device of saying that the girls are making their own home movie is a clever way to provide a veiled disguise for this low budget flick.
The acting can distract at times – you can see that the protagonists are getting better at delivering their lines later on in the film compared to the beginning, as they become more comfortable in front of the camera. Other young actors look uneasy throughout, instead.
Sometimes the sound and editing are not quite polished enough, so you do miss out on some of the intended meaning of a few scenes, which get lost in the process.
Maisie and Daisy
It's a Nice Way to Spend 80 Minutes Together as a Family
Watching A Dozen Summers can be a nice way to spend some time together as a family – it may even provide the opportunity to critique the film at the end, come up with alternative ideas for the plot, or it may even inspire the kids to make their own video project.
The film has some good ideas in it and some of the dialogue manages to capture real conversations that go on between parents and their children.
My view is that this film will appeal mostly to UK audiences, as the young ones will be living through similar experiences to those portrayed in the film and their parents may reminisce about their own school days. Someone outside the UK may enjoy this little slice of Britain and its quirkiness.