Very often the best films are about the simplest of stories. This is true of the new movie “Armageddon Time”, which is about an 11-year-old Jewish Boy in 1980, who is having trouble in school and is best friends with a trouble-making black boy in his class. Their teacher is rude, especially to the black boy Johnny, played by Jaylin Webb and the main character of this story Paul, played by Banks Repeta – one of the most unusual names I have ever seen. They are caught smoking weed in the bathroom and run off on their own during a class trip to the Guggenheim museum, but for some unexplained reason, they never get into trouble after they take the subway home and were missing from the group. I consider this a glaring hole in the screenplay, surprising in the middle of this mostly strong story. Paul is constantly bullied by his brother, which is hard to watch at times. Paul’s mother Esther, played by Anne Hathaway and her husband Irving played by Jeremy Strong are good in their roles but their characters seem overwhelmed by all that is going on and living with Esther’s father Aaron, played by the great Anthony Hopkins. There is also a very small part in this film where Jessica Chastain is playing someone naked Maryanne Trump who gives a school speech. There is some suggestion that she could be part of the Trump family.
Overall this story is relatively lightweight, with nothing that significant happening, other than some scenes of childhood bigotry and the plight of Johnny, who is a young black boy with dreams of being an astronaut and slowly realizing that because he is black his options in life are limited compared to the white students around him. For me, the likability of Paul, played by Banks Repeta steals this movie and is the main reason for the positive reviews.
This movie has a strong cast and good acting and despite the small story, I do recommend this film for its simplicity and many lessons about the difficulty of childhood.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a middle of the road 75% and I mostly agree with this rating.