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A Boy Called Sailboat

What's In A Name?

5th May 2019

At the end of every year, the most popular baby names of the past twelve months are announced. In 2018, Sophia was the most used name for a girl while Jackson ruled over the boys’ list. Apart from the most popular ones, we also get a glimpse of the more uncommon and weird names. Even some that should never see the light of day.

We’re pretty sure that Sailboat might not be on any of those lists. However, if babies born with a name like that turned out to become like Sailboat, the leading character in “A Boy Called Sailboat”, more boys would get that name.

Director Cameron Nugent (“Magic”) made from his first full-length feature film a sweet and heartwarming movie about a young boy with a big dream and a special name. Sadly, every “first” comes with some flaws…

Sailboat, Julian Atocani Sanchez, lives together with his father, Noel Gugliemi (“The Mule“, “Dragged Across Concrete“) and mother, Elizabeth De Razzo (“The 33“, “The Greasy Strangler”) in a drought-ridden town in the deep South West of America.

While their house is on the brink of collapsing, this Hispanic family lives a humble and simple but proud life. Little did they know that one discovery would change the family completely.

After one special afternoon, the young Sailboat comes in with his newest treasure, a ukelele or “a small guitar” as he likes to call it himself. It doesn’t take long for him to fall in love with the instrument completely and soon he starts to learn how to play it.

Sadly, bad news strikes the family again as Sailboat’s grandmother falls gravely ill. However, from her deathbed, she instructs Sailboat to write a song for her.

The song becomes one that will impact the family in more than one way. Will Sailboat be the young wonder that could give his family a much better life or will the hopes be too high?

Remember “Wonder” from director Stephen Chbosky with Jacob Tremblay in the leading role? Well, Sailboat and this wonderful film remind us of that because of the voice-over of a young, sweet and innocent boy.

A boy with a passion that will change his world forever, whether it’s playing ukelele or wanting to go to the moon. It’s Julian Atocani Sanchez, who making his filming debut, gives this movie such a human voice (literally and figuratively speaking) to make sure that the movie is an accessible, charming and gentle one.

Sanchez is being supported by both Elizabeth De Razzo and Noel Gugliemi as the caring and loving parents whose lives are filled with the love for their son, food, music, and family.

The most noticeable name attached to this film is without a doubt J.K. Simmons (“The Front Runner“, “La La Land“) and while the very first scene starts with a glimpse of the Academy Award-winning actor, his role in this film is very limited. However, we all know that when Simmons does something he does it with style, flair, and wittiness. “A Boy Called Sailboat” is no exception.

While there’s a lot of sunshine, a wonderful soundtrack (even “House of the Rising Sun” gets a Mexican twist in this film) and genuine acting performances, this newest Nugent movie has its flaws too.

The biggest one is without a doubt the music Sailboat makes which is…no music at all. While we see him playing the ukelele, the music is being muted, just like when a car passes by to cover up some swearwords in other features.

It’s just squeaky “music” and due to that, your attention and interest in this film fade away immediately. Yes, when the sound comes back on, the film is brought back to life again. But still, couldn’t the filmmakers have found something better than just filter out the music?

Others reasons why “A Boy Called Sailboat” isn’t as intriguing as it could have been are some of the strange events happening in this film. Finding a sailboat in the middle of the desert? What’s the purpose of J.K Simmons’ character as he goes as quickly as he came? Some things just don’t add up.

No, “A Boy Called Sailboat”isn’t a film that’s going to stand out of the crowd. It contains humour, a loving family and a young kid with a dream but so does a dozen of other (and honestly also better) films.

It’s certainly not as unique as the boy’s name and it clearly has its flaws. However, if you want to have a lazy Sunday watching a heartwarming family film with nothing more, nothing less, then this is a wonderful film for that.



Cameron Nugent

Cameron Nugent

Running Time:
1h 32mins

A Hispanic family find hope in their extraordinary son named Sailboat when a personal gesture awakens a global desire.

Cameron Nugent, Elizabeth De Razzo, Jake Busey, JK Simmons, Julian Atocani Sanchez, Noel Gugliemi

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