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Though bullying is what brings them together, strength and a sort of interdependency is what holds two young person’s bond together.
Review (with Spoilers)
For whatever reason, stories like this, Bridge to Terabithia, Little Manhattan and etc., I just find so cute. Mostly because it is so rare they are made, since really who wants to watch two unknown kids deal with bullying and running away, but at the same time a lot of good actors start off as kids. And to me, both Chandler Canterbury and Annalise Basso give the type of performance where you can see that, with the right agent, they both could have fruitful careers in the entertainment business.
Characters & Story
The story of Standing Up deals with two outcasts. One being Howie (played by Chandler Canterbury) and the other Grace (played by Annalise Basso). Both are going to this camp which has a tradition of hazing in which a “goat” is left on this island a mile away from camp and stripped naked. But, the two goats this year, Grace and Howie, don’t stick around for the ridicule. Howie, being resourceful, and a bit of a kleptomaniac, guides them on a 2-3 day journey in which as their bond grows stronger, so do they.
Despite the whole bullying thing being what is talked about when it comes to this movie, thankfully it isn’t really the main focus. If anything, Standing Up reminds you that as much as bullying is a problem amongst peers, part of the issue isn’t just the bully that is the child’s age, but parents which are the bullies as well. However, though the topic of bullying is a part of the film, the real focus is the journey Grace and Howie have in which both Basso and Canterbury really display a good emotional complexity which is often absent in adolescent characters.
The reason I say this is because though children are often a part of stories in which dramatic, or rather traumatic, things happen, they are usually placed in a supporting role so while their feelings are present, they often are secondary. With Standing Up, though, you can see these two young people portray the trauma of being ostracized, the awkwardness of receiving kindness from a stranger, and even watching them become interdependent is strange, but at the same time entertaining. Basso, for instance, grows as a character from this sniveling little mouse into a girl who seems to have learned what confidence is, and though Howie surely helped, at the same time you can’t say what she learns is fully based on her mimicking him. As for Canterbury, quite honestly, I think he could easily follow in Josh Hutcherson’s shoes and maybe have a career like him, or maybe even better. And I say that because he shows the same type of emotional depth Hutcherson did in the movies mentioned above in which a boy is allowed to show his emotions, cry about his situation, and find this weird sort of way to show that despite how often we undermine kids, that they can easily feel like they have as much on their plate as people older than them.
When it comes to critiquing this film, I must admit I did find it weird how the kids survived for the days they ran away. I mean, the adults seem pretty oblivious. Between them sneaking into a summer camp and them getting a motel room for the night, I’m not sure if you have to stretch your disbelief or if someone could really do this, and it is just I haven’t heard of such a tale yet. Outside of that, though, really there are no major issues.
It is rare for movies like this to be made when kids aren’t trying to be cute or are made to be comical, and seemingly just like when popular comedians get to do dramatic roles, certain kids in dramatic roles just flourish. And lest we forget, be it Natalie Portman, Christina Ricci, and those of a younger generation like Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb, movies like this one are what help people discover great actors. And that is why I say this is worth renting or seeing on Video on Demand. For though you may not watch an award-worthy performance, you certainly can see potential in the two leads and who doesn’t want to see talent at a starting stage and watch it grow?