Movie Short Review: ‘Champ’

Greetings again from the darkness. What makes a man? And why are dads so concerned about turning their sons into real men? Writer-director Ben Tricklebank and co-writer James Philip Gould-Bourn show us the fine line between being a role model and conveying toxic masculinity.

14-year-old Jake (Kingston Vernes) lives with his mother and her boyfriend, though he continues to spend time with his father, Danny (Drew Powell). Danny is a proud man with his own ideas of what his son should be. He scoffs at Jake’s dream of being a doctor, and is temporarily wounded when Jake describes his mom’s boyfriend as “kind”. In this situation, Danny tries even harder to mold his son and influence his direction. Boxing gloves for Jake may seem totally out of character for the boy, but it speaks directly to Danny’s ideal man.

In only 13+ minutes, filmmaker Tricklebank and the performances of Mr. Powell and young Mr. Vernes give us everything we need to know about these two. And we can’t help but cringe when Danny tells his son, “Trust me.” There is so much more to being a father than being a macho man, yet it’s easy to see how so many men fall into the trap. After all, it’s likely how they were raised. Also worth noting here is the excellent camera work from cinematographer Oren Soffer, which adds to the all-important atmosphere for Jake and his dad.

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