Michael Ward on Saturday, September 14
Returning to elementary school, only to learn a new student shares his same first name, Sune vs. Sune walks through the trials and tribulations endured by a 10-year-old blonde boy named Sune, whose brown-haired counterpart is taking all the attention.
Based on a popular Swedish children’s book series, which has spun off into numerous television series and this sixth film adaptation from over 30 different books authored by Anders Jacobsson and Sören Olsson, Sune vs. Sune is a family-oriented film that covers a lot of ground.
Almost immediately dubbed “Sune 2,” the blonde Sune (Elis Gerdt) is well-loved and taken care for, but life is a bit of a struggle for his middle-class family. His father, Rudolf (Fredrik Hallgren), is a tax preparer who hates his profession and struggling through something of a midlife crisis. Karin (Sissela Benn), Sune’s mother, finds herself running in circles trying to keep up with the wealth and luxury experienced by friends and neighbors.
A precocious younger brother antagonizes Sune at home, and an older sister lectures him all the time. The new Sune (John Österlund), however, instills jealousy, curiosity, and concern at school for the old Sune. Worse yet, new Sune catches the attention of Sofie (Lily Wahlsteen), old Sune’s crush and best friend.
Something of a turf war takes place, albeit from one side of this dual Sune equation, and soon, old Sune will learn just why new Sune has moved to a new school. Driven by some great child actors, Sune vs. Sune focuses on acceptance, inclusiveness, and learning to overcome a fear or worry about who you are and your place in the world.
Ironically, the children are smarter than the adults in many ways, but this is not a film which writes “dumb” adults for “smart” kids to mock and ridicule. Holmberg’s film makes the case that kids and adults can be caught up in the same fears and anxieties. Fitting in, mattering, needing to belong - these are insecurities which never go away, no matter how much money we have, who we call our friends, or whether we share a first name with someone else or not.
If the film is guilty of covering too much ground, Sune vs. Sune remains witty, thoughtful, and amusing from start to finish. Comedic cutaways, some great supporting characters, and a movie that never talks down to its audience, no matter the age, this Swedish import is a family-friendly comedy that transcends language barriers and speaks to the essence of the child in all of us.