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Florida Film Fest review: I DECLARE WAR

April 7, 2013
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I DECLARE WAR

All’s fair in love and war, and I Declare War has a little of the former and a lot of the latter. But to be completely fair, the drama deserves a bit more than just one star. However, it is the least competent of the 15 flicks I saw for this year’s festival.

Director-writer Jason Lapeyre and co-director Robert Wilson were obviously inspired by both the friendship themes of Stand By Me and the darker tones of Lord of the Flies. In an odd hybrid of the two, they have created a story of middle-class kids who infuse their simple summer war games with jealousy, revenge and real violence.

All the young actors pour their hearts into the project, but only P.K. (13-year-old Gage Munroe) truly stands out. A romantic subplot, though well-acted by the only girl in the film (Mackenzie Munro), goes nowhere, as do the various “battle scenes,” which slowly build to a contrived conclusion. Yet the worst mistake Lapeyre makes is not allowing the kids to show their innocence at the beginning of the film, as Lord of the Flies does. Instead, he launches right in with nastiness and brutality, making it difficult to relate to the characters or even tell which kids are on which teams. And the misguided blend of real, pretend and imagined violence only lessens the emotional impact.

Much like the kids’ “war,” the movie feels like a work in progress, something that’s being made up as it goes along. In short, it’s only a step or two above a student film.

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