A Dozen Summers doesn’t really offer much more else in the way of plot other than this. The film instead opts to take a look at the day to day lives of the pair, examining the world from the point of view of two 12 year olds. Exploring the gap between adolescence and adulthood and highlighting how adults can sometimes be just as out of touch with the world as their younger counterparts.
The decision to break the fourth wall and have the characters in total control of the film, including its edits and time jumps at first seems like an odd approach and some of the opening sequences seem a bit plodding. However once we begin to meet some of the films other characters it takes off and becomes a rather amicable and sweet natured story.
The fact that Hall opted to use his own two children in the film (and also star in it himself) could have proved disastrous, but what could have been a vanity project actually turns out to be a labour of love and the film is at its best when Hall is sharing it with his daughters – helped along by his good understanding of them both, thus managing to ground the film with realistic dialogue and heart felt exchanges. At times the film is reminiscent of Tony Parsons’ best selling novel Man and Boy, except the man is a domesticated Irish writer and the boy is two 12 year old girls trying to help their dad find the right woman.
The meta approach to the film may put some audience members off and some would argue that it can be quite smug but for the most part, but Hall gets the balance right, not to mention the way he demonstrates such an understanding of the genre at hand, playing with the conventions just enough to make it accessible, while chucking in some cinema references for good measure.
Using such an unknown cast was always going to be a tough challenge and whilst the quality of the acting does dip sometimes it never proves to be detrimental, as the more experienced members of the cast are never too far away to put it back on the right track.