With his debut, “The Scouting Book for Boys,” helmer Tom Harper wants to have it all: a gritty slice of life in a trailer park, lensed like a pretty commercial. Unfortunately, neither element works. This far-fetched tale of a deception gone terribly wrong begins energetically but soon turns ridiculous, hobbled by pedestrian dialogue and poor side characters. At home, ancillary will be far stronger than theatrical, while Stateside chances are slim in any medium, even if subtitles are added for the near-impenetrable working-class accents.
Best friends David (Thomas Turgoose) and Emily (Holliday Grainger) are an unlikely young duo — he’s awkward, she’s volatile. When her trashy mother (Susan Lynch) loses custody, Emily is told she has to move in with her dad (Nick Sidi). Instead, she hides out in a cave, where David brings her necessities, but he feels betrayed upon learning she’s pregnant by security guard Steve (Rafe Spall). Ham-fisted narrative aside, the tech elements pose problems: Why the “CSI: Miami”-style color scheme, with impossible light sources? And who supplied the scores of candles so tastefully arranged in the cave’s niches?