Paul (Jaeden Martell), the titular 13-year-old of “The True Adventures of Wolfboy,” has a condition that causes his body to be covered in hair; if he tries shaving, the hair grows back thicker. Bullies ridicule him for his appearance and don’t even spare his single father (Chris Messina).
Most of this often surreal, always eccentric movie concerns what transpires when Paul runs away to search for his mother, whom he never knew. Along the way, he encounters a flamboyant carnival owner (John Turturro) who wants him to sit in a cage as an attraction. He befriends a transgender girl, Aristiana (Sophie Giannamore), who pushes him to accept who he is. And the two of them join forces with Rose, an eyepatch-wearing thief (Eve Hewson) who has already encouraged Paul to drink (“You’re never not old enough for anything,” she insists when he protests that he’s too young) and soon introduces the pair to her pastime of holding up gas stations for snacks.
So while the film, directed by Martin Krejci and written by the playwright Olivia Dufault (both in feature debuts), superficially sounds like a bland self-esteem booster, it takes some risks; it refuses to sugarcoat Paul’s pain and ventures into uncomfortable, almost Terry Gilliam-esque territory. The flip side of daring to being off-putting is that the movie is at times simply icky. (Creepily, the teenagers tend to talk as if they’re wise beyond their years — and why is Aristiana, who is about Paul’s age, performing in a cabaret act?) But no one could accuse these adventures of being conventional.