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Prince of Central Park (2000)

Survival is the most dangerous game of all.

Directed by:

John Leekley

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 109 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United States

Frankie Nasso is JJ Somerled, a young boy who lives in New York with his abusive foster mother Mrs Ardis (Cathy Moriarty). JJ is a musical prodigy with his keyboard, able to play any tune by ear. He dreams of finding his real mother, although he struggles to accept that she may have left him and doesn't want him. Unable to bear the situation any longer, JJ runs away and takes refuge in Central Park, still hoping to find out more about his mother. Here he discovers a world peopled by a range of peculiar characters all ruled by an intimidating eccentric known as The Guardian (Harvey Keitel) who lives under a bridge in the park.

At the same time, Rebecca Cairn (Kathleen Turner) is haunted by the death of her son years earlier, much to the concern of her husband Noah (Danny Aiello). They are financially well off, but their marriage is crumbling under the strain of Rebecca's refusal to accept the death of her son. One day, Rebecca meets JJ and takes him home to play on her long-abandoned piano. Soon JJ is becoming part of the family. However, his foster mother is determined to have him back for the income he represents. To make matters worse she is hiding a dreadful secret about his missing mother.

This adolescent urban fantasy has its moments, although it is far from perfect. The story is interestingly handled, although the basic elements are not new and some of the plot is presented in a rather disjointed way. Strong casting produces some interesting performances, notably those of Harvey Keitel as the eccentric Guardian and Cathy Moriarty as Mrs Ardis. Youngster Frankie Nasso does a workmanlike job as JJ, and clearly enjoys playing the role. Although aimed at older children (some of the characters may be a bit frightening for the younger ones), the strong adult cast is likely to draw in many older people also and the story is not so juvenile that it fails to offer them something.

It's Got: A strong cast producing some notable performances.

It Needs: To be less disjointed in its storytelling.

DVD Extras Just a trailer with this single-disc release. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Fly Away Home, My Girl., The Adventures of Huck Finn

Summary

Above-average adolescent drama that may appeal to adults as well.

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