In Philips & the Monkey Pen, debutant director duo of Rojin Thomas and Shanil Muhammed, takes us on an enchanting trip along with an adorable eight-year-old student named Ryan Philip.
The innate honesty of the young boy and his gang of friends would easily melt your heart and prompt you to go straight into those wonderful childhood days. The narrative unfolds at a rather languid pace but the kids makes the viewers feel absolutely engaged.
Ryan (Sanoop Santhosh) is the only son of a young couple Roy Philip (Jayasurya) and Sameera (Remya Nambeeshan). He is in fifth standard and is finding it difficult to complete his Maths homework everyday. The harsh ways adopted by their Maths teacher, Pappan (Vijay Babu), doesn't help to improve things either.
The entire first half of the film sketches the antics of the young boy and his friends. Sometime later he receives the magical 'Monkey Pen', which is explained as the pen that helped British harbor engineer Robert Bristow to develop the Cochin Port, during his sleep. Ryan feels the magic and chances are that after watching it, every child could start dreaming about some magic that would help them in their studies!
At almost 140 minutes, the film is a tad too long with some unnecessary detailing and a few melodramatic sequences. The script could have been crispier and it is surprising that none of the other teachers interact or have any influence over a fifth grade student other than their Maths teacher!
There may be shortcomings but that doesn't take the zing out of this well-intentioned movie. Directors Rojin and Shanil need a pat on their back for their remarkable entry into filmdom. Neil D' Cunha's visuals are top notch and debutant Rahul Subramanian's music is quite impressive.
Though he is using his normal diction, which it seems has been reserved for all his Christian characters, Jayasurya gives a definite charm to his character of the loving dad named Roy. Remya Nambeeshan looks out of place most of the times and manages a rather okay performance at best. Vijay Babu shows promise as the strict Maths teacher. Innocent and Mukesh are good in their brief roles.
But the film belongs to the endearing little genius named Sanoop. With a matured performance that will remain in your minds intact long after you leave the cinemas, this boy wonder unleashes one of the finest performances by any actor in Malayalam films during recent times. The young kids who performed as his friends also need appreciation for their brilliant efforts.
Philips & the Monkey Pen could succeed in striking an emotional chord with the viewer in a big way but one gets the feeling that it could have been better. Still, this one has a big heart and every frame of it shows the passion of those who made this film.
This film is not just for kids, but for anyone who loves kids. Don't miss this one!
Verdict: Very Good