December Boys Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Christian Byers, Lee Cormie, James Fraser, Teresa Palmer Director: Rod Hardy The film: In America the film world these days celebrates a young man's coming of age alongside a guy called McLovin, lots of jokes about sex, and multiple scenes of embarrassing, drunken fumblings. Down Under they do things a little differently. There's a beachside holiday, torn emotions and many fading sunsets. And on paper at least, Superbad and December Boys are concerned with the same thing. It's the time when young men are faced with the sorts of things that are supposed to make you a man. Decisions about friendship, the spectre of women looming on the horizon. But while Superbad chooses for the most part to show up how absurd the whole situation can be, December Boys goes for a more serious angle and aims itself straight for your heart. It's touching, at times, but never anything more than a minor film, one that never quite reaches the level of emotion felt with similar Australian productions, such as Henri Safran's wonderfully evocative award winner Storm Boy (1976). Maybe a few more breast jokes would have made it truly memorable. But December Boys was a wise choice for its star, Daniel Radcliffe. No doubt wanting to shed the robes of that young boy wizard, Radcliffe has taken himself as far from Hogwarts as is humanly possible. He's chosen a small drama to help establish his acting chops outside the major studio system. Radcliffe plays the older mentor to three teenaged orphans whose friendship is put to the test when news comes through that a couple might want to adopt one of them. It all plays out to a stunning beachside backdrop as the group struggles with the news - and with the thought that the grown-up world is about to force itself on their fates. Long-time TV director Rod Hardy (The X-Files) knows how to build his drama, and to play off a few poignant images of youth let loose. Like when the boys are presented with the chance to see naked female flesh but remain slightly unsure of whether it's something they really want to experience. Look, they seem to know, and you'll never look back. Radcliffe does his best, albeit in a slightly stilted way that never leaves you fully convinced. Rather you walk away thinking December Boys is more part of his learning curve than any example of the finished article. The other boys fill in their characters commendably as they bumble around like boys often do. The extras: Little effort has been made by the studio - all you get are some extra scenes that never amount to much anyway. The verdict: File it under 'family drama' - a passable enough time-filler, but not one that leaves any great imprint.