Kids can teach us a lesson or two if we give them a chance. A carefree childhood is a thing of the past with children under pressure to perform and bring good results, but they still manage to enjoy the small pleasures of life.
This is the essence of Philips and the Monkey Pen directed by newcomers Rojin Thomas and Shanil Muhammed.
The film follows Ryan Philip (Master Sanoop), a fifth grader, and his chums who are smart but cannot translate their smartness into academic success.
Ryan dreads mathematics and abhors Pappan Sir (Vijay Babu), the maths teacher. Pappan is of the old school and resorts to corporal punishment to punish lazy students and Ryan is frequently at the receiving end.
Ryan is always on the lookout for ways to tackle the dreadful numbers, which includes invoking God and finding a girlfriend who can handle this chore for him.
It does not help Ryan that he is brought up by unconventional parents Roy (Jayasurya) and Sameera (Remya Nambeesan). Neither puts undue pressure on their son to achieve academic success. This has made him into a bit of a brat who indulges in dangerous mischief in school with his gang.
Ryan’s life takes a miraculous turn after he goes to spend a weekend with his estranged grandfather Richard (Joy Mathew), who has a fetish for antiques. There, Ryan gets his hands on the Monkey Pen that has magical powers.
The film belongs to Master Sanoop and his gang. They hold their own against the seasoned elders who collectively give a refined performance.
Jayasurya, who has to be the young dad with a sensible head on his shoulders while keeping his comic charm intact, does a convincing job.
The same applies to Remya Nambeesan who has to be mature beyond her age. We just wish that her character was a little more detailed.
Vijay Babu, who plays Pappan Sir, fits the part of the old-fashioned teacher on the verge of extinction.
The story is charming without being overly sentimental or manipulative. It keeps the audience in good humour most of the time. The only complaint is that it lapses into existential philosophy once in a while.
Philips and the Monkey Pen is a charming film.