JOE (CLIVE OWEN) is an Australian sportswriter with a wife, two sons, and a predictably muscular prose style, like a cross between Frank Bascombe and Don Draper. When his wife dies, Joe is left sole custodian of his young son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty). The two are soon joined by Harry (George MacKay), Joe's son from a previous marriage, a Ron Weasley-looking teen with severe daddy issues.
Joe's house quickly becomes a no-rules zone, surfaces piling with unwashed clothes and the remnants of last week's meals—all thanks to Joe's "just say yes" parenting style. It's women, we learn, who stand between men and fully actualized fun, with their "rules" and their "saying no." Luckily for fun, there aren't too many women in The Boys Are Back. (There is a naggy ghost wife, but she doesn't materialize too often.) Of course, soon enough the shit hits the fan, flinging little dollops of life lesson all over the audience.
Joe's predicament—a single father, womanless and struggling to do right by his sons—was clearly designed to tickle the ovaries, but "women are a drag" is a backward premise for a chick flick, better-than-average writing and some solid performances notwithstanding.