This film adheres to the recipe of successful 80's filmmaking. We are introduced to a diverse group of boyhood friends with a hunger for adventure and desire to prove their manhood that reminds us, but does not capture, the well-developed dynamic in Stand by Me. They find an E.T. - um, I mean, Russian, on a nearby beach and hold him hostage. Rather than peddle him around in a bicycle basket or take him out in a ghost costume, they choose upgraded transport via boat. No costume is needed when you use the blood-relative disguise, and passing him off as Joaquin Phoenix's uncle does the trick. Can you say 80's make-over montage?
Not surprisingly, a questionable friendship develops between the boys and their prisoner that is reminiscent of the unlikely bond between the Goonies and Sloth. We are shown just how much fun an adult male can have with a group of young boys as they introduce him to all great things American. They may not be feeding him Reese's Pieces, but you can taste the propaganda, and check out the supermarket aisle full of Oreos! Wow, who wouldn't want to wash ashore here?
Equally unlikely, but predictably 80's, is the instant romance between Russian Mischa and Adam's older sister. Yet, if we've learned anything from Ringwald (not featured in this movie), it's that common interests are not prerequisites for declaring your eternal love for Jake Ryan. Being the same age is enough. Continue the nonsensical romance Russian heartthrob and Peter Pan haircut girl!
Top it all off with a boy stealing a rocket pack to save the day, and you would think Russkies had solidified its place in the annals of cinema genius. So what went wrong? Obviously the lack of a dance-off competition didn't help. Perhaps the group of boys needed to bond in detention or sing on a parade float to be taken seriously in the cinematic world. While this film is not bad, it certainly falls short. It formulates the hallmarks of great movie-making, but lacks the magic to become a classic.