Dexter, age 11, who has AIDS, and his next door neighbor Eric, a little older and much bigger, become best friends.
Not, as the title might tantalisingly suggest, a biopic of a Goth band famed for misapplied lipstick, this is instead
a Stand By Me-ish coming-of-age picture with a grim 90s twist.
Erik (Renfro) is a basically good kid with an abusive midday tippler of a mother (Diana Scarwid) and a mild attitude problem. Dexter (Mazzello) is his diminutive neighbour, with a loving parent (Sciorra) and AIDS. Lonely Erik befriends him, much to the horror of his own ignorant, prejudiced mother.
After a cursory viewing of Medicine Man, the kids both cute but neither particularly bright set sail for New Orleans on a raft made of inner-tubes, and the miracle cure for AIDS theyve read about in a tacky tabloid. Needless to say, their hunt is picturesque if fruitless, and it all ends amid a mass of tubeage and machines that go ping in an intensive-care ward.
For the first hour this is a pleasantly unsentimental look at the virtues of friendship and tolerance, skilfully helmed by thirtysomethings Horton, before plunging into TV movie malady-of-the-moment country, dumping delicate characterisation for an all-out ruthless assault on the tear ducts. Which is a pity, since it sells short fine turns from the two pre-teens. Mazzello last seen in The River Wild is sweet enough, but it is Renfro who lights up the screen, delivering an astonishingly measured performance and showing the same talent for taking mawkish dialogue and investing it with a startling sincerity that marked out the early career of River Phoenix. No world-beater, but if youre on for a self-indulgent weep, this should more than fit the bill
A Stand By Me for the 90s.