Review: 'The True Adventures of Wolfboy' loses its ways
Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
With a title like “The True Adventures of Wolfboy” you expect something akin to a mystical narrative about a misbegotten creature transformed overnight from pesky human into powerful wolf boy. None such thing exists in Martin Krejci’s surprisingly down to earth, but ultimately misguided drama about young Paul (Jaden Martell) who desperately yearns to be a normal kid and goes on a quest to find his mother.
Paul was born with a rare condition known as congenital hypertrichosis, an affliction that causes abnormal hair growth all over the face and body. It makes him an easy target for bullies at school, and even his dad (Chris Messina) who gets accused of having sex with a dog. There’s no mythos to unpack or a wistful fable to tell, the “wolfboy“ is just a kid who can’t walk around a local fair without a facemask in fear of the looks he’ll get.
Such emotional infrastructure isn’t the core of what “Wolfboy” is about, “Legion” screenwriter Olivia Dufault takes us on a different type of ride. One that sees Paul run into some nutty characters, broken up into different segments throughout the movie. One section finds him strapped for cash, and in order to earn enough dough for a bus ticket to Pennsylvania, has to work under a shady carnival operator (John Turturro) who obviously wants to exploit Paul’s disorder for monetary gain (“The Dangerous DOG BOY.”) This film must take place outside of cancel culture, because if Twitter saw the way this kid was treated by patrons, it would be all over the news.
From there, “True Adventures of Wolfboy” stumbles from one roadblock to the next with the 13 year old falling in love with transgender teen Aristiana (Sophie Giannamore) whose mother still calls her “Kevin.” Not only do they get picked up by a pink-haired, eyepatch donning friend Rose (Eve Hewson) they fuel their escapades by robbing local convenience stores and gas stations.
Such freewheeling attitude populates the majority of “Wolfboy” which basically asks the audience to go with the flow, but loses its message along the way. Ideally, the film should be more prone about the possibility of discovery amid a world that wants nothing to do with Paul. Where instead, it becomes an ensemble piece about a group of miscreants who don’t fit in and plan to steal their own happiness. Like he did in “Defending Jacob, Martell holds up as the lonely, distrubed boy trying to understand how he, like the audience, ended up in the randomest of situations.
None of the characters - outside of the criminally undeveloped Aristiana - make an impression, with a last second extended cameo by the great Stephen McKinley Henderson doing minimal to save face. Nobody will doubt that “The True Adventures of Wolfboy” has its heart in the right place, but when the movie struggles to find a place for its main character, you know something isn’t clicking.
THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY is now available On Demand & Digital.