David and Kamal, an International Odd Couple
David and Kamal is a movie that one really really wants to like (even the box art screams out "Love me!"). After all, it’s about an unlikely friendship between two nine-year-old boys: David, a shy, asthmatic, misunderstood (but privileged) American Jew visiting his father in Jerusalem, and Kamal, a poor Arab living in Jerusalem with his abusive grandfather and family. What makes their friendship unlikely is that they meet when Kamal (Abdallah El Akal) steals David’s (Yoni Rosenzweig) rare coin collection.
David is visiting his father in Israel because his mother is on her honeymoon; father and son have not seen each other in five years and they have little in common. Kamal dreams of going to America and sees David as his ticket out of selling postcards (“Beautiful--3 for dollar”) on the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, poverty, and being beaten by his tyrannical grandfather.
While tweens might find David and Kamal interesting, the film disappoints with production values on a par with a 1970s Afterschool Special (with music to match), a soggy screenplay, and a less-than-gifted cast. In its mercifully short 78 minutes, it mines cliché after cliché. The characters are little more than two-dimensional stereotypes, and even they seem to know this story could have been told better. Tweens deserve more than that. David and Kamal will be available on DVD January 24, 2012.