** 1/2 (two and a half stars)
"Rich Hill" is a prime example of the dangers of trying to humanize a major social issue: The humans are more complicated than that, and the social issue gets muddled. Here, cousins Tracey Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo try to tell the story of three teen boys who live in Rich Hill, Mo., population 1,396. Andrew is a good kid, but his family has moved a lot so Andrew’s father can find work. Appachey likes skateboarding, but his short temper (inherited, as we see, from his mom) gets him into trouble at school. And Harley is a quick-tempered Juggalo who lives with his grandma, because his mom is in prison. The filmmakers elicit sympathy for these boys and capture evocative images of small-town life, but the movie doesn’t have much to offer beyond a general "poverty is bad" message.
-- Sean P. Means
"Rich Hill" screens again in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Redstone Cinema 2, Park City; Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. at the Broadway Centre Cinemas 3, Salt Lake City; Thursday at 11 a.m. at The MARC, Park City; Friday at 3 p.m. at the Sundance Screening Room, Sundance resort; and Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Redstone Cinema 1, Park City.
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