×

Film Review: ‘White Frog’

A somewhat heavy-handed yet rather endearing lesson in various kinds of tolerance that should do OK in home formats

With:
Booboo Stewart, BD Wong, Harry Shum Jr., Gregg Sulkin, Joan Chen, Tyler Posey, Manish Dayal, Kelly Hu, Talulah Riley, Amy Hill, Justin Martin, David Henry Hwang, Phil Abrams, Ron McCoy.

Earnest drama “White Frog” centers on a 15-year-old with Asperger syndrome coping with his outgoing older brother’s death. Less edgy than the movies director Quentin Lee has written himself, this somewhat heavy-handed yet rather endearing lesson in various kinds of tolerance should do OK in home formats. It opened on two Los Angeles screens May 10.

Popular, athletic high schooler Chaz Young (Harry Shum Jr.) is the light of several people’s lives — none more than that of little bro Nick (Booboo Stewart), whose painful social awkwardness has shut him off from nearly everyone else. When Chaz is killed by a drunk driver, Nick is inconsolable, while his parents (Joan Chen, BD Wong) flounder in their own ways. Seeking some postmortem connection, the boy is taken in by his sibling’s best friends, invited to their weekly “study group” (actually poker and drinking sessions) by kindly Doug (Tyler Posey). The others are less welcoming at first, especially rich kid Randy (Gregg Sulkin), whose relationship with the late Chaz turns out to have been more intimate than
anyone knew.

Ellie and Fabienne Wen’s script is of the type that sometimes seems like a compilation of political correctitudes — there’s even a lesbian-managed inner-city youth community center putting on a hip-hop dance show— and the AfterSchool Special-style instructional klutziness risks silliness at times (particularly when Nick delivers a big speech at the end, adding to cinema’s long history of manipulating diagnosed mental-illness conditions every which way for narrative convenience). Corny as all this seems, however, “White Frog” nonetheless has a sweet-natured guilelessness that ultimately trumps its
myriad flaws — or will, if approached without too cynical a mindset.

Perfs are decent if occasionally pushed over the top; assembly is polished, if a bit blandly so.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'White Frog'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, May 9, 2013. Running time: 93 MIN.

Production: A Wolfe Releasing release of a Wentertainment Prods. and Chris Lee Prods. presentation in association with Preferred Content. Produced by Chris Lee, Joel Soisson, Ellie Wen. Executive producers, David Henry Hwang, Kevin Iwashina. Co-producer, Stanley Yung.

Crew: Directed by Quentin Lee. Screenplay, Fabienne Wen, Ellie Wen. Camera (color, HD), Yasu Tanida; editor, Matthew Rundell; music, Steven Pranoto; production designer, Ermando DiFebo-Orsini; costume designer, Michelle Wang; set decorator, Marina Starec; sound, James Ridgley; supervising sound designer/re-recording mixer, Kenneth L. Johnson; assistant director, Evan L. Robichaud; casting, Brad Gilmore.

With: Booboo Stewart, BD Wong, Harry Shum Jr., Gregg Sulkin, Joan Chen, Tyler Posey, Manish Dayal, Kelly Hu, Talulah Riley, Amy Hill, Justin Martin, David Henry Hwang, Phil Abrams, Ron McCoy.

More Film

  • 'Human Capital' Sells to Vertical Entertainment,

    Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke's 'Human Capital' Sells Rights to DirecTV, Vertical Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to “Human Capital,” an official selection of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival from director Marc Meyers. The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Maya Hawke. The ensemble drama follows numerous interconnected stories surrounding a hit and run, [...]

  • Robert Zemeckis

    Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Pinocchio' for Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

    Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio.” Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field with Weitz penning the script. “Paddington” director Paul King had originally been tapped to direct but had to leave the project for unknown reasons at the beginning of the year. David [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for Best Actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Quentin Tarantino (L) and US actor

    Quentin Tarantino Holds Firm, Won't Recut 'Once Upon a Time' for China

    Quentin Tarantino will not recut “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to placate Chinese censors, Variety has confirmed. The decision likely means that the Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt buddy dramedy and ode to late sixties Tinseltown won’t be making an appearance in China — at least in non-pirated form. Tarantino previously ran afoul of [...]

  • Maleficent Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Flying Low With $35 Million Opening

    Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is heading for an opening weekend of about $35 million at 3,790 North American locations — significantly below forecasts, early estimates showed on Friday. The fantasy sequel should still win the domestic weekend box office handily, denying Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” a third consecutive victory. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” will [...]

  • Naomie Harris Shriek

    'Venom 2': Naomie Harris Eyed to Play Villain Shriek Opposite Tom Hardy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Naomie Harris is in talks to play Spider-Man villain Shriek in Sony’s “Venom 2,” with Tom Hardy returning as the titular anti-hero. Andy Serkis is on board to direct, and Michelle Williams and Woody Harrelson are also reprising their roles. The original film was a huge hit for the studio when it premiered in 2018, [...]

  • David Weisman

    David Weisman, 'Kiss of the Spider Woman' Producer, Dies at 77

    David Weisman, who was Oscar-nominated as producer of “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” died Oct. 9 in Los Angeles due to complications from West Nile virus. He was 77. Weisman had a long career as a graphic designer and photographer and co-wrote and co-directed cult classic “Ciao! Manhattan” about 1960s icon Edie Sedgwick. Born in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content