Home | Review Archive | The Bucket 'Blog | Screening Log | Film Festival Coverage | Contact Danny


  The Kite Runner

Starring: Shaun Toub, Khalid Abdalla, Nasser Memarzia, Said Taghmaoui

Directed by: Marc Forster

Produced by: William Horberg, Rebecca Yeldham, Walter F. Parkes, E. Bennett Walsh

Written by: David Benioff

Distributor: Paramount Vantage


     Hey, everybody, it’s time to get out your pajamas, your carton of Haagen Daas ice cream, and your sentimental Oprah-adoring state of mind and watch a movie about Taliban’s generation-long military occupation of Afghanistan! You’ll laugh a bit, you’ll cry a lot, and you’ll come to realize that the Middle East has been every bit the big, bad place that you had assumed it to be for a very long time! In fact, along the way, you may even pick up some Dari, the native language of Afghanistan, which is readily spoken throughout the film. But don’t worry – you won’t have to read too many subtitles if you don’t want to: there’s lots of action to distract the characters from talking and, when blessed with the proper American setting, sometimes they even speak English! Not to mention, the plot is so conventional anyway that you really don’t have to listen to the dialogue to know what’s going on!

     Still not interested just yet? Well, I’m about to offer up a seal of quality that you will not be able to ignore. Remember how, in the beginning of this review, we established that you are currently in an “Oprah-adoring state of mind?” Well, guess what? The movie is The Kite Runner, and it’s adapted from one of the best books read by Oprah’s Book Club! So don’t fret: if Oprah likes it, you’ll like it. On this note, make sure that you vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming Democratic Primary (you are Democrats, aren’t you?), because Oprah endorses his nomination for President! We all know that what Oprah says, whether it involve great contemporary literature or great contemporary politicians, is unquestionably and unequivocally correct!

     If you still aren’t sold on the movie, I will describe its tear-jerking plot for you so that you will understand what an epic ride The Kite Runner just is. The first act introduces the viewer (that could be you!) to two boys, Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) and Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada). Amir is the son of a wealthy landowner and Hassan is the son said landowner’s servant. The two get along—Amir is consistently impressed by the fact that Hassan is the best “kite runner” in their hometown of Kabul, Afghanistan—despite their strong class differences. But one day, Amir witnesses Hassan being beat up by a gang of local bullies and finds himself unable to report the crime because of his perception of their class distinction. Amir commits a sleazy act that ensures that Hassan and his father leave the servant-job, allowing him to no longer have to deal with the guilt provoked by his concealment of the bullying-event. Shortly afterwards, Afghanistan erupts into the very war-torn chaos that led to the Taliban coming to power. Amir and his dad are able to flee Kabul for America; Hassan and his father are not so lucky.

     The rest of The Kite Runner, which I dare not spoil, follows adult Amir’s return to Kabul after living in America for over twenty years. It’s really emotional and just downright good! In fact, I got really choked up and teary-eyed just writing about the movie during the last paragraph. It’s just… so crazy to see how horrible the Taliban was. And it’s really hard to see how Amir treated Hassan, who really loved him, just because he was poor! I mean, I saw it in a theatre and I forgot to bring my tissues. This caused my plethora of tears to leak down onto my pants. When I left the theatre, the usher thought that I had peed my pants because my pants were so wet! That’s how much this movie will make you cry! But you’ll cry in a good way… like a “we can all feel good because now we know that we can somehow make the world a better place because we’ve seen The Kite Runner!”-kind of way. It’s really powerful to know this.

     Now, there is one pretty big problem that I have with the movie: director Marc Forster (the German guy who did that really cool Johnny Depp movie Finding Neverland) uses a straightforward, Classical style in presenting it. It really brings too much emotional intimacy and “deep” quietness to the story. I was already affected by the mere idea of the plot—people being killed by the Taliban—so I wanted some big explosions or some wacky handheld camera or maybe even different actors playing the characters (like in that movie about Bob Dylan that’s out now but I still haven’t seen) to spice things up. All three of these styles could have made the movie an even more wonderful experience with even more emotional layers! When films are done in a style that’s merely “nice,” the only people who pick up on the real depth behind the seemingly straightforward material are NYU Film School Students! And given that I’m a total Everyman, I need something wilder to think about – something to totally give my mind a good fucking! Kinda like that weird brain-twister that I didn’t understand called Southland Tales, which was made by the same guy who did Donnie Darko. Maybe that guy should’ve directed The Kite Runner instead of Forster.

     Still, I don’t want to dwell on The Kite Runner’s single flaw. There’s a lot more good stuff about it that I could talk about. But I wouldn’t want this review to get too long because you might be reading it so long that you would miss the next showtime of the movie at your local theatre! So let me mention the great performances and I’ll get out of your face. Everybody in the movie is absolutely wonderful! From kid actors Ebrahimi and Mahmidzada to grown-up actors Shaun Toub and Ali Dinesh, the cast feels totally real in their roles. (They made sure to get genuine Arabs to play the characters so that we didn’t have to deal with the disbelief of a white or a black actor playing the role with Arab makeup, too, which is an added bonus.) So, yeah, now that I’m done talking about the acting, I’ll do what I said I would and get out of your face. Just make sure that you go see The Kite Runner today! It’s Oprah approved!

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 12.16.2007

Screened on: 11.15.2007 at the Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas in San Diego, CA.


The Kite Runner is rated PG-13 and runs 122 minutes.

Back to Home