Sort of a kid-friendly “Stand By Me” — complete with period tunes and a narrator who never stops talking — “The Stream” recalls one particularly momentous day in the summer of 1981. Five friends, who pass the time pretending their Wiffle bats are light sabers, accidentally snap one of the bats in half. The rest of the movie follows the kids on a quest to retrieve a new one at the mall, with various obstacles thrown in like a sudden rainstorm or a run-in with the town bully.
I’d have to be a pretty mean curmudgeon to lean too heavily on the noticeable deficiencies in a movie like “The Stream,” considering it was pieced together by a bunch of teenagers who had never made a movie before. Most of the movie’s young cast is made up of relatively unknowns, which is probably why the movie’s budget was somewhere in the mid $700,000s and why the majority of the box office proceeds will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“The Stream” is a likable enough movie but it’s achingly thin. It’s pretty obvious that the biggest names in the cast — Mario Lopez, for example, or Rainn Wilson from “The Office” — are in it more for the glory than the notoriety. (Not to mention Lopez makes such a brief cameo that you’re bound to miss him if you step out for a refill.) It also doesn’t make much sense to set the movie in 1981, considering there aren’t a ton of people going to see “The Stream” who will understand the references to Joan Jett and gaudy fashion faux pas.
Playing exclusively at Regal Cinemas, “The Stream” is innocuous enough entertainment, but it plays more like an experiment than a movie. Here’s hoping the young filmmakers can hone their talents by the time their next feature rolls around.
Rated PG. 88 minutes.
Director: Estlin Feigley. Starring: Jacob M Williams, Noura Boustany Jost.