Director John Crowley's lighter follow-up to the anguished Boy A features a standard teaming of reluctant oldster and troubled youngster—both residents of a down-at-the-heels family-run rest home. Besides the blokeish star playing retired magician Clarence (Michael Caine, who could twinkly-tearily confide with bobbing accent in his sleep), one charming difference is that the ornery kid (Bill Milner) gets as tetchy and self-pitying as his curmudgeonly pal. Milner was the Calvin-and-Hobbesian fantasist in Son of Rambow, and he again displays a headlong sense of enterprise as the mouthy junior-ghosthunter son of the home's overworked owners (Anne-Marie Duff and David Morrissey). (The requisite gallery of eccentric pensioners, played by British TV and stage vets, are like furniture to him.) TV writer Peter Harness' script finds a good macabre turning point for "The Amazing" Clarence's precipitous decline into senility, but even Crowley, who seems to have a knack with overloaded material, can't quite bring the thing in for a safe landing in all the slush. The action is set in the '80s, allowing for an insta-fade palette—and also apparently so that the young hero can still be bored.
Yes, Caine could play this role in his sleep.
Opens at Seven Gables, Fri., May 1. Rated PG-13. 94 minutes.