on September 06, 1996 by Jean Oppenheimer
Any adult moviegoer looking to find his or her inner child probably deserves "Bogus," a sentimental, mainstream film about a seven-year-old orphan, Albert (Haley Joel Osment), who goes to live with his mother's foster sister, Harriet (Whoopi Goldberg), a tough businesswoman who doesn't want a child in her life. To help him cope with his life's upheaval, Albert invents an imaginary friend named Bogus (Gerard Depardieu), who helps him--and ultimately Harriet--learn to open their hearts to one another.
Osment steals the picture. Age six when he made the movie, Osment comes off more like a Hollywood child star than a real kid, but he gives a thoroughly ingratiating performance nonetheless. Goldberg seems awkward, as if she never found the core of her character; meanwhile, Depardieu isn't required to act so much as simply be a gentle giant, at which he succeeds without effort. Nancy Travis ("So I Married an Axe Murderer"), who plays Albert's mother, has to learn to do more than just smile on screen--although in her defense the Alvin Sargent script doesn't ask her to do much more.
The normally reliable Sargent (Oscar winner for "Ordinary People") here fails to deliver the nuances of even his mediocre work. The storyline is too frightening for little children--Albert not only loses his mother but is rejected and/or abandoned by just about everybody else: his mother's circus friends, who love him but feel they can't care for him; classmates at Albert's new school; and Harriet. Her early insensitivity isn't believable, and her turnabout at the end feels equally false; it's as if director/producer Norman Jewison were trying to tie up the story with a neat little bow. Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Gerard Depardieu and Haley Joel Osment. Directed by Norman Jewison. Written by Alvin Sargent. Produced by Arnon Milchan and Norman Jewison. Fantasy/drama. Rated PG for thematic elements and some mild language. Running time: 112 min.
Tags: Gerard Depardieu, Norman Jewison, drama, Whoopi Goldberg, Haley Joel Osmen, Alvin Sargent, Arnon Milchan, fantasy, family drama

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