: With a beautiful relationship between an animator and a child at its centre, the film is all about how one should never give up on childhood dreams.
: As a kid, Joan Mary John (Manju Warrier) dreams of becoming someone like Walt Disney. In adulthood, however, her work remains unnoticed, despite her best attempts. Jo has almost given up on her dreams when Criz (Sanoop Santhosh) enters her life. His determination in making his little dreams come true inspires her, and Jo finds success by creating an animated character out of him.
Jo and the Boy
is not exactly a children's movie, but more of a Hollywood-style inspirational film set in the backdrop of an unspecified cold hill town and centred on a child enamoured by cartoon characters. In fact, the only connect with Indian reality is that the characters speak Malayalam.
Hats off to the director for daring to bring in a girl protagonist in a male-dominated Mollywood. The film can be considered the actual comeback movie for Manju Warrier, for Jo reminds one of the girl in Summer in Bethlehem. Whether the actress fits the bill of a spunky and free-spirited new-age girl remains questionable though.
Although Manju looks prettier than ever and is livelier than in her previous films, at times the spunkiness feels forced. The English diction of all characters leaves a lot to be desired, especially since meticulous attention has been paid to everything else. Cinematographer Neil D' Cunha has succeeded in making each frame look breath-taking. The costumes of the actors and the interiors look classy and picture-perfect.
Sanoop Santhosh, whose performance triggers memories of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, has immense screen presence. Lalu Alex and Kalaranjini as Jo's parents steal all the laughs, with their impeccable comic timing and fresh dialogues. Debutante Kiran also brings in something new, with his goofy geek act. Music by Rahul Subramaniam matches the feel good factor and the film gets 100 on 100 for sheer effort.
However, at the end of it all, one wonders if there were actually more 'aha' moments and motivational quotes than a strong storyline. Somehow, the magic of the director's debut movie, Philips and the Monkey Pen, is missing here. The second half lags, with hard to digest elements like a child attaining international fame overnight. Jo and the Boy could have been a cute and watchable flick if it had been packed into a neat one-and-a-half hours.