Dated and Ineffective Drama: Our Review of ‘Milton’s Secret’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - September 29, 2016
Dated and Ineffective Drama: Our Review of ‘Milton’s Secret’

Milton’s Secret‘s titular 11-year-old protagonist, Milton Adams (William Ainscough), has what seems to be an idyllic small town life. But he is aware of the troubling real world where his mother Jane (Mia Krishner) and father Bill (David Sutcliffe) live. They’re drowning in problems that he thinks he can fix. But because this is a kid’s film, his uses alchemy as as solution to these worries.

And then two more characters disrupt his dysfunctional childhood, and we’ll talk about the ‘positive’ influence first. Donald Sutherland plays Milton’s grandpa Howard, a veteran turned hippie. He enters from an airport terminal, an ‘cool’ entrance that Dakota Johnson did better.

The film doesn’t devote more time to flesh out supporting characters like Howard beyond cartoony outlines. Howard connects with Milton – both share the same values. But what about the dysfunctional relationship between Howard and his daughter Jane that we only see through short exchanges? And as Howard’s daughter says in the film, he’s a baby boomer with a military pension. He doesn’t get to brush off other people’s worries and shelter himself with teachable moments.

The Adams family also thinks that Howard’s Zumba fitness routine, or anything he does, is a new age thing as opposed to the cash grab that it actually is. This film is writer-director Barnet Bain adapting an Echkart Tolle book of the same name that he latter published in 2008. Zumba would have been around for a decade and a half by then. He’s also dating his Zumba instructor. This  worries his daughter because that woman might just be into him because of his money. Which is a worry, like all worries, that he brushes off.

Milton then walks into a boy his age, Carter, having a front yard argument with his mother. Carter pressures Milton not to tell anyone about what the latter kid saw. They could use the titular secret as a way for them to commiserate on how terrible parents are. But what Carter does instead is bully Milton as if it would help him get rid of his problem.miltonssecret

The movie is either boring, nonsensical, or inauthentic. Take for instance, Michelle Rodriguez character, elementary school teacher to Milton and the boys. This would have been ok had her reading list not consisted of Socrates and Rudyard Kipling. Kipling is the devil. I only know Echkart Tolle in passing but I have a hard time believing that Echkart Tolle or anyone born after WWII would like Kipling. No wonder why Carter’s becoming misanthropic – he and the rest of his class deserve a lesson plan from the real Michelle Rodriguez.

Movies only show the bully’s pathos during their third acts, if at all. Showing Carter’s inner life in the beginning makes the audience wonder what else we’re going to see from these two boys other than making Carter twirl his non-existent mustache. But instead the movie frames Carter’s subplots to show that actions don’t have consequences.

I want to to end the review of this uninteresting film by disclosing that I had bullies when I was Milton’s age. Like Milton, I didn’t tell anyone until it got worse but unlike Milton’s parents my parents got the schools involved. Victims of bullying are neither ‘wusses’ nor ‘wimps,’ people who use those words are cowards, and victim blaming is intolerable and it makes my blood boil. But time passes. I’ve had a bully who got tired of me and started bullying other people, and bullying one person after another made him more disliked by the people around him, which is the most vindicating feeling in the world.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you’re working.