The True Adventures of Wolfboy Assessment: Jaeden Martell Shines in a Touching Story of Acceptance
The True Adventures of Wolfboy is a touching coming-of-age story about acceptance in a cruel and exploitative world. Jaeden Martell stars as a teenager with hypertrichosis, a condition that causes excessive hair growth all over the body. His dog-like appearance is the subject of constant ridicule; which has left him introverted and filled with self-loathing. The film takes him on a journey of understanding. He encounters a variety of odd characters. They help him to make peace with the things he cannot change.
The True Adventures of Wolfboyopens at a festive carnival. Paul (Jaeden Martell) is forced by his father, Denny (Chris Messina), to attend for his thirteenth birthday. He wears a ski mask to cover the shame of his hairy face. Denny begs him to remove it. He wants his son to learn confidence. Paul is viciously taunted by his schoolmates. They chase him down while hurling hateful insults. He refuses to tell his father their names.
That night, Paul receives a package in the mail. It is a wrapped gift from his mother, who abandoned him and his father at birth. She has sent a map to her location in Pennsylvania. Paul hides it from his father. He reacts angrily when Denny gives him a uniform with a green embroidered blazer. Paul does not want to go to a school for “special” children. He locks himself in his room, then decides to take a drastic step. Paul runs away to find his mother. His search for answers will be more revealing than he ever imagined.
The True Adventures of Wolfboy uses a creative fantasy element to propel the plot. Each scene is prefaced with a medieval painting that shows a wolfman interacting with different magical creatures. They signify the unique supporting characters he meets on his road trip. Some are villainous, like John Turturro’s devilish ringmaster. Others become dear friends who show a lonely boy kindness and sympathy. Transgender actress Sophie Giannamore is absolutely brilliant here. She plays a “mermaid” whose mother refuses to accept her sexuality. The meaning behind the artwork is explained in a well-crafted climax. All aspects of the film are brought together beautifully in a poetic thread.
Growing up is never easy. The formative teenage years are difficult even in the best circumstances. Now imagine being a kid covered in shaggy hair from head to toe. Jaeden Martell portrays Paul with a deep sense of longing. A lifetime of taunts has suppressed his true feelings. He explodes in anger when his frustration reaches its limits. But he’s equally thankful for every new moment of joy. Martell doesn’t allow the character to become a spectacle defined by rage.
The True Adventures of Wolfboy is never preachy, condescending, or melodramatic. It is a parable of the age-old Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. It doesn’t matter what you look like. Everyone deserves love and respect. The film conveys this message in an artistic, thoughtful way. The True Adventures of Wolfboy is a production of Big Indie Pictures and K Period Media. It will be available October 30th on demand and digitally from Vertical Entertainment.
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Film critic, raconteur, praying for dolphins to grow thumbs and do better.