THE FORGER (a/k/a CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Prod. Josh Hutcherson/Carlos De Los Rios, Writ. Carlos De Los Rios/Lawrence Roeck, Dir. Lawrence Roeck, 2012, 110 minutes) was sort of fun, humorous 'after-school-special' type drama that kept me watching.
Josh Hutcherson plays Joshua Mason, a Carmel, California kid of immense misfortune. His horrifying monster of a mother, drug addict and child abuser, abandons him in a motel room where he is later found. Though he is supposed to be 15, Joshua somehow eludes school and even foster care. He is taken under the wing of a suave art forger (Alfred Molina) who needs Joshua's immense artistic talents.
One thing simultaneously refreshing and frightening is the art forgery lesson this film teaches. Never have I seen a film specifically oriented this way, but it felt quite real to me. More real than the drama it enfolded.
Along the way he meets the wonderful, immortal Lauren Bacall as Anne-Marie, the local eccentric millionairess. There is a scene when the two hug, Lauren and Josh, and I wondered: Does that boy know he is hugging HOLLYWOOD?! Did he have any idea of the person with whom he was sharing a scene? Not only do I maintain my crush on the beautiful but eternally wooden Hutcherson, now I actually sort of hate him for being a big-time producer AND hugging Lauren Bacall!!
What next, he gets to play Peter O'Toole's great-grandson with Colin Firth as his father??
This is a gently funny and gently moral tale; its PG-13 rating is well-deserved, and I see a greater future for Hutcherson as producer than as an actor - though he can keep doing acting as long as one day he plays that dream gay role I fully expect of him. Meanwhile, don't miss this colorful, meaningful film that somehow seems to float aimlessly in spite of all the drama.
I'm not too sure the director knew what he was trying to say here: it is his first picture. But they all did a hell of a job trying. As for Lauren Bacall, I imagine this was like a mini-vacation for the likes of her! Is there anyone left alive today who is her equal?!
With the additional talents of Billy Boyd, Adam Godley, an incredibly gorgeous Scott Eastwood (yes, Clint's son whose real name is Scott Reeves), and Dakota-Fanning-lookalike Hayden Panetierre as Joshua's love interest. Filmed on location in Carmel, California.
There's a passing of the torch evident here for Kentucky-born Hutcherson, who additionally has had to suffer rumors about his gay self. Here he is, in a film he produced, costarring with Lauren Bacall and Alfred Molina. Note, the only thing of interest he's done since this film is The Hunger Games, with whatever number of sequels to follow. Hutcherson started out as a mere boy doing TV until he landed the part of "the hero boy" in Polar Express. He then popped up conspicuously in Robin Williams' lame comeback comedy RV, playing Williams' son. He then starred in Bridge To Terabithia which annoyed a lot of people for some reason.
Hutcherson was sort of reborn as a sex symbol in Journey to the Center of Earth, by which time it was clear somebody was seeing to this boy's meteoric rise to stardom. After suffering The Kids Are All Right, Hutcherson showed his sweet self in the sequel to JOURNEY, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy).
After he finally 'hit it big' in the overblown HUNGER GAMES he's gone on to star in a very busy 2013 schedule: the sequel THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (see him for now in Chase the Stars: The Cast of the Hunger Games), the remake RED DAWN, PARADISE LOST (based on the true story of the West Memphis Three) and he will of course be doing a second sequel to JOURNEY: JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3.
If he's not careful, he'll be the next Mel Gibson (in the best sense of the description).