Darius is a young tween who has just begun to be interested in girls. But he has no clue how to go about getting a girlfriend, and neither do his friends. Watching older kids like his brother offers no insight, and his elementary attempts to talk with a girl in the neighborhood are thwarted by a protective father. A neighborhood game offers him a chance at finding a girl -- but the girls may just prove to be wilier and tougher for a young kid like Darius.
Written and directed by LeRon Lee, this artful, engaging dramedy is a wry look at how a young boy learns about the art of courtship. Beginning with a scene of Darius alone with his older brother, who is trying to talk to sweet-talk a girl into coming over to fool around while their parents are gone. It sets up the themes of youth, romance and innocence with an ironic contrast, and signals a smart, fresh approach to storytelling infused with humor, creative risk-taking and an affectionate, nostalgic eye for kids trying to be grown-ups.
Eventually, Darius is pushed outside by his brother, so he tries to contact the girl, Rosanna, whom he has a crush on. Unable to lure her outside, Darius roams the neighborhood with his friend, who all join up with the other kids in a game of "catch a girl." The film has a naturalistic look and feel, but several unique creative strategies inject stylization into the storytelling, and the musical score blends hip-hop and orchestral strings, making for a dramatic, heightened contrast with the childhood games that play out onscreen.
The chase is exciting, fun and full of uncertainty, but no one seems to quite know what to do with a girl once she is "caught." The chase is also interspersed with small vignettes of adult men trying to catch uninterested females, drawing funny parallels with the artlessness of courtship, no matter what age. Young actor Daniel G. Cunningham leads a charming cast of scrappy, rambunctious kids, and he captures perfectly the tension of a boy starting to grow up and imitating the men around him, but still has the inherent innocence and sweetness of a young child. These qualities serve the film well in maintaining its mellow charm and appeal and eventually will serve Darius well, too.
Darius eventually "catches up" to a girl, but he proves no match for her forthright confidence and no-nonsense attitude. He's just about to give up when he gets a fortuitous meeting in the street with Rosanna's father. Left to his own devices, he follows his instincts of politeness and respect, giving "Catch a Girl" a pleasing, heartwarming ending worthy of all of the film's wit and inventiveness. Told with a sly charm and affectionate eye for its young character and made with deft, sure-footed craftsmanship, it's a summertime tale of being young and having adventures, just at the age when romance starts becoming the biggest adventure of all. And it proves that kids may know way more than the adults around them when it comes to love.