Bobby’s father died when he was five and his mother (Hope Davis) resented being left alone to raise her son. She’s not a bad woman, but with the traumatic loss of her husband, she has become very selfish and full of self-pity. Needless to say, when Bobby is presented with a very positive role model, Ted takes the place of both lost parents.
Ted, knowing Bobby would love to have a new bike that his mom says they can’t afford, offers to pay Bobby a dollar a week to read him the newspaper everyday. When Bobby feels that that’s too high a price to pay for such a service, even though Ted explains that his eyes are going bad with age, Ted tells him that he also wants him to watch out for the “low men” who are after Ted. Though the film suggests that these men are government agents from the FBI or CIA, they could just as easily be from a criminal organization or another galaxy. But what they’re after is clear to Bobby. He knows Ted can sometimes see the future or sense what’s happening to other people without being physically present, and it’s this gift of clairvoyance that the low men want to posses for their own ends. This gift only adds to Ted’s stature in Bobby’s eyes, giving him a positive spiritual as well as physical dimension. Indeed, the selfless love that Ted is able to offer Bobby on several levels is just what this 11-year-old boy needs to grow into manhood.
There’s nothing really scary in this film, but it does haunt you with what one has to face in the world in order to grow. The entire cast is excellent, but Hopkins and Yelchin’s performances are in a higher dimension.
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