We live in a country where the belief is that our leaders have our best intentions in mind… sadly that is far from the truth. Budget cuts and political restraints are constant hurdles we face for any real changes to be made. Unfortunately, in the midst of numbers and useless rhetoric the most important value that is lost is whom this effects. In the United States there are nearly 500,000 children in the foster care system with the majority becoming homeless, arrested or dead after leaving. The fact that we leave these children in such a broken system is a complete shame and an utter embarrassment to our country. This is the focus of Youssef Delara’s new film Foster Boy written by attorney/producer Jay Paul Deratany and executive produced by NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal. Deratany brought his first-hand accounts as a top litigator in Chicago to the forefront that caught O’Neal’s attention to which he immediately came on board to help get the film’s message out to the masses regarding the failed system these children are stuck in.
In this legal thriller top attorney Michael Trainer, played by Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Stranger Things), is forced to take on the pro-bono case for teenager Jamal Randolph, played by newcomer Shane Paul McGhie. Jamal is a byproduct of the foster system having been in twelve different homes by the age of ten. McGhie portrays Jamal with a tough, strong exterior but inside is a broken boy; it is an extremely fragile character that McGhie balances with great poise. Jamal wants nothing more than justice but is so incapable of trust or giving someone else power over him that it makes it nearly impossible to bring anything to light. This film makes it clear that this is bad vs evil, albeit it a film it still offers real life context. The opposition portraying the foster care system top brass are Julie Benz (Dexter, Defiance), Greg Germann (Ally McBeal, Grey’s Anatomy) and their lawyer played by Evan Handler (Californication, Power). It is almost unthinkable individuals like these exist in the real world but that is a cold hard fact. Companies portrayed are making money off of children that have zero care for and treat like livestock.
At times the film feels like a tv drama where certain aspects are played up to add tension to the narrative but the underlying fact remains that these children are left without a thought. Modine at times is reminiscent of Atticus Finch as portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee but he definitely did not start out that way. His character arc along with the relationship with the proceeding judge played by Louis Gossett Jr. (Watchmen)at times felt too much like watching a film rather than an actual portrayal of these events. Everyone in the film invokes a strong response for the characters they portray with the only one I felt underutilized being Modine’s colleague Keisha, played by another newcomer in Lex Scott Davis. These points aside though still does not hide the fact that so many children are not being taken care of and that is the true motive behind this film. Good or bad, evil CEO vs woken lawyer these factors do not matter and what does is we need to reform the system.