Based on two Stephen King non-horror short stories, this is a touchy-feely coming-of-age tale, as a middle-aged man reflects on the summer he was eleven, when the closest thing to a bogeyman in his life was a bullying neighbourhood kid. Like Stand By Me, this isn’t just a tale of childhood – King can’t resist throwing in something slightly unusual. Young Bobby (Yelchin) also has to deal with the mysterious and wise Ted Brautigan (Hopkins) who is lodging in the apartment upstairs and asks Bobby to watch out for ‘low men, fellows who are ruthless and dangerous to know.’ The two develop a friendship, and Ted becomes the father figure Bobby needs (especially when you consider his mum is so mean she gives her son a library card for his birthday so she can spend more on herself).
What raises this from being more than just a sweet drama that girls cry at are the performances from young Yelchin and, of course, the veteran Hopkins, who delivers screenwriter William Goldman’s hokiest lines (‘sometimes when you’re young, you have moments of such happiness, you think you’re living in someplace magical…’) as if they were Shakespeare and makes you believe them. This is definitely not for cynical teens, but those who can cast their scepticism aside will be treated to a sweet, if slightly corny, drama.
Is Hearts In Atlantis suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There is occasionally a menacing feel to the movie, but nothing overtly scary.