Stolen Summer

The promo tag line reads, "you've seen the back-stabbing, now see the final cut" and most will agree that the mean-spirited ambience of the HBO series was the right bait to catch movie audiences. The film itself, directed by first-timer Pete Jones, was greenlighted and produced by starmeisters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (and Chris Moore), who chose Jones' script from 250 finalist o­nline submissions to 'Project Greenlight'. The story concerns o­ne bittersweet summer in the life of eight-year old Pete O'Malley (Adi Stein) and his Catholic 'mission' to convert his Jewish buddy Danny Jacobsen (Mike Weinberg), thereby guaranteeing himself a place in heaven. It's a borderline saccharine boyhood yarn set in 1970's Chicago with the requisite working-class noisy Catholic brood, headed by stubborn 'n' proud Irish firefighter Joe O'Malley (Aidan Quinn), and his stay-at-home wife Margaret (Bonnie Hunt). Pete meets local Rabbi Jacobsen (Kevin Pollak), and his (quieter, more affluent) family through Danny, and as the boys' friendship blossoms, the two families become enmeshed in each other's troubles. All the dramatic elements, dealing with family bonds and religious tolerance are appropriately moving, yet at final credits, o­ne wonders if Stolen Summer would have made it to the screen without the green note promotional backing of the Project Greenlight folks.