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House of D

Mostly D-Lightful

Debut writer/director David Duchovny (of "X-Files" fame) has assembled a charming coming of age story following the adventures of twelve-year old (nearly thirteen!)Tommy Warshaw (Anton Yelchin) and his mentally 'challenged' best friend Pappas (Robin Williams) in House of D. Duchovny's debut offers a plethora of delightfully hilarious moments and an equal number of tragic ones (and what coming-of-age story worth its salt doesn't?). House of D is a solid debut and succeeds on many levels, but the film is not beyond reproach.

House of D succeeds in creating characters that are accessible and endearing. Tommy is an intelligent, clever, and caring boy who truly loves those close to him (e.g. his mom and Pappas). Anton Yelchin's performance as Tommy is perhaps the highlight of the film and he easily holds his own against the considerably more experienced Robin Williams. Williams's portrayal of Pappas is solid and entertaining.

However, what is unclear is exactly how a twelve-year old boy became soul mates with a 41-year old mentally challenged man? It's not as if Tommy is an outsider or has difficulties making friends. House of D never really sheds light on this matter, assuming that simply because the two live in close proximity a close friendship will naturally evolve. This doesn't make the relationship between Tommy and Pappas less pleasant to watch on screen, just a bit less plausible.

More plausible is the dialogue in the movie, which provides numerous entertaining moments and makes it easier to ignore the film's shortcomings. Tommy's attempt to dupe his French teacher into saying lewd and lascivious things is but one example. Duchovny crafts interactions between the primary characters that are engaging and believable.

Unfortunately, Duchovny fails to craft believable situations in the latter stages of the film. Without disclosing intimate details of the plot, Tommy is confronted with a couple of tragic, requisite coming of age crossroads and his ultimate decision in both cases does not seem realistic given his age and experience.

Additionally, the powerful influence of the 'lady' from the House of D (Greenwich Village's House of Detention) doesn't make sense. This woman (who only has contact with Tommy through her cell window) exerts a powerful influence over Tommy and seemingly has the answer to all of his conundrums. Why this is the case and why Tommy chooses to take her advice doesn't add up. It's quirky and it's funny, but not always believable.

Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, House of D entertains for most of the run time of the film. The movie has a good heart and there is an authenticity to the characters and the dialogue that is uncommon. Duchovny may not have hit his debut out of the park, but this effort bodes well for his next attempt.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars