Mike says hi! (2012)
Directed by: Maria Peters | 95 minutes | family | Actors: Maas Bronkhuyzen, Faas Wijn, Bracha van Doesburgh, Leona Philippo, Carine Crutzen, Dave Mantel, Marloes van den Heuvel, Gaite Jansen, Hadewych Minis, Nasrdin Dchar, Chris Tates, Bart Klever, Tjebbo Gerritsma, Roos Ouwehand, Vincent Croiset, Bob Fosko, Dani Stauder, Shona Smit, Joep van Lieshout, Patrick Stoof, Gonny Gaakeer, Rogier Philipoom, Tiger Wesdorp, Ole Tijs Kramer, Casijn Broerse, Dimme Treurniet, Lenny Keijlard, Luc Theeboom, Ruben Brinkman, Marc van Uchelen, Reinier Noordzij , Jos Barlag, Pien Kann, Larissa Vis, Daniel van Kempen, Stijn Westenend, Margreet Boershoek, Annaleen Louwes, Marinus Vroom, Lennart Timmerman, Dilem Arslam, Samantha Tel, Betty van der Schaaf-Plaat, Frans Berkhout, Sinot, Miranda Donkervoet Camphuijsen, Yvonne Paludanus van Baarlen, Wanda van der Heijden, Sonny van der Heijden, Cees van Meijgaarden, Patrick Wessels, Peter van der Velden, Frits Groen, Sjaak Palidanus
Although Maria Peters already proved that she is very capable of making a good film about contemporary children with the Carry Slee film adaptation ‘Keep Slee’, thanks to films such as ‘Pietje Bell’, ‘Kruimeltje’ and even the adult-made ‘Sonny Boy’ to focus more on films set in times long gone. She can do that image with ‘Mike greetings!’ You can easily shake it off, because this family film offers entertainment for the whole family, as well as a contemporary look at a relevant subject: youth care.
Ten-year-old Mike (Maas Bronkhuyzen) has had leukemia. However, after his stay of months in the pediatric ward of the AZA hospital in Amsterdam, he is cured. However, he is waiting for his mother, Natasha, to pick him up. When she doesn’t show up at the agreed time, even after repeated calls and voicemail messages, the hospital staff are forced to offer Mike a few more days of shelter. The boy ends up in a room where there is another patient: Vincent (Faas Wijn), recovering from a serious truck accident, but who will probably never walk again. Nurse Laetitia (Leona Philippo) takes Mike’s fate almost personally and calls in the Youth Care Agency.
After an investigation, employee Cilia (Carine Crutzen) (invariably called the poodle by Mike, because of her curled up hair), who is processing Mike’s file, comes to the conclusion that Natasja (Bracha van Doesburgh), because of her drinking problem, is no longer able to to take care of her son. The case goes to the juvenile court and the crushing ruling has far-reaching consequences. Angry and disappointed, Mike believes he can take care of himself if his mother can’t. To prove this, he writes a letter to the juvenile court judge (hence the title). But to no avail. Cilia does her very best to put Mike with a foster family before Christmas, but on Vincent’s advice, Mike manages to sabotage the first meeting – in some very entertaining scenes.
Christmas comes and goes and in the meantime Natasha promises to get well. But no one knows she’s now in rehab, not even Mike. If he then decides to be admitted to a community (“a home”, as the main character calls it) just before he is taken in, he runs off, he goes home. Very exciting, because nobody knows where he is. Vincent is aware, but he thinks that Natasja is just at home. And while Mike is better, he does need medication…
‘Mike says hi!’ is an expertly made, fun, sweet, funny and moving film. Everything is right: from the direction to the development of the characters (not only Mike and Natasja have a credible background, Faas Wijn’s character Vincent also has a deeper layer, which will undoubtedly cause emotional reactions among the audience). The setting of the film is perfect and the actors are very good in their roles. Bracha van Doesburg is very convincing as a mother who actually only does well in good times, but especially the two boys, Maas Bronkhuyzen (Timmie from ‘Dolfje Weerwolfje’) and Faas Wijn (‘Tony 10’) stand out. Humor and drama are well dosed – and when the film tries to be funny, it really succeeds and the sentimental moments feel authentic (handsome mom or dad who can keep it dry!). In addition, the film has an important message: that some improvements can be made to youth care in the Netherlands. It is not a direct criticism of the relief agency, but it does make ‘Mike greetings!’ It is clear that the handling of a case is highly dependent on the responsible employee and that this can lead to completely different outcomes. With ‘Mike greetings!’ After the very nice ‘Keep off’, Maria Peters puts herself back on the map as a director who knows what goes on among children. And keep an eye on the two young protagonists Maas and Faas, they will go far!