THE BOY WHO COULD FLY
Review by Michael Jacobson
Lucy Deakins, Jay Underwood, Fred Savage, Bonnie Bedelia, Fred Gwynne,
Colleen Dewhurst, Louise Fletcher
Director: Nick Castle
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 108 Minutes
Release Date: July 8, 2003
if you wish hard enough and love long enough, anythingís possible.Ē
Boy Who Could Fly is like a Phoenix that soars up from the ashes of sorrows.
Itís a wonderful fantasy so deeply rooted in the reality of loss and
sadness that it earns every moment that defies belief.
It challenges the coldest and most cynical of hearts to scoff rather than
to melt. Most of all, it finds that part of you that you probably
thought didnít exist anymoreÖthat childlike wonder that makes you want to
embrace a miracle rather than discredit it.
starts with terrific parts and ends up something bigger than their sum total:
one visionary writer/director in Nick Castle, who made one of the most
worthwhile family films ever by blending the bare hearted sentiment of Frank
Capra into a world where there are real cares, troubles, and heartaches.
Add three veteran character actors in Bonnie Bedelia, Fred Gwynne and
Colleen Dewhurst, and you have a solid foundation.
Finish with three incredible young newcomers in Lucy Deakins, Jay
Underwood and Fred Savage (even younger than you remember), and you have the
spirit needed to lift off and soar through the clouds.
Milly (Deakins), her younger brother Louis (Savage) and her mom (Bedelia) arrive
at their new home, itís to start a new chapter in their lives after the death
of the father. It doesnít take
long for Milly to spot her next door neighbor, Eric (Underwood), who sits
silently outside his second story bedroom window for hours at a time, with arms
outstretched, pretending to fly.
has been labeled autistic. Heís
never spoken a word. He shies away
from all people. When he was five,
his parents died in a plane crash. And
somehow, he knew it was happening. It
was the first time he went to his window and pretended to be an airplane.
And heíd been doing it ever since.
her mother struggles with re-entering a new computerized workforce, and her
frequently troubled brother having school and bully problems, Milly ends up
befriending Eric at the bequest of her teacher (Dewhurst).
For all Eric has left is his alcoholic Uncle Hugo (Gwynne), and there is
real fear that Eric will be taken away to somewhere that will stifle whatever
remaining spark he has left.
characters in this film have to deal with loss and death before they can proceed
with life. There are scenes of pure
and honest heartbreak and real tears. Those
are all part of being alive.
so are love, hope and dreaming. And
soon, Milly comes to believe thereís a lot more to Eric than he shows the
world. In fact, there may be
was 16 years old when I first saw this movie, and I embraced it with a love
thatís never left me. It remains
one of the few films I know that can still smooth away the cynical edges made
jagged by adulthood. Itís a
motion picture that boldly suggests the absurdly impossible, while sweetly
reminding us that believing in the absurdly impossible is one of the things that
gets us through life.
have praises all around for this film, but my biggest ones are reserved for the
three young stars. Fred Savage
would of course go on to do other great work, but he demonstrated in his first
major role that he was more than just another cute kid in cinema.
And Jay Underwood, who spends most of the film mute, brings life and
heart into a character thatís unique and memorable.
He lives in his own shell and yet we still feel close to himÖthatís
my heart always has gone out mostly to Lucy Deakins, whom I first saw
originating the role of Lily Walsh on As the World Turns and whom I
considered to be one of the most promising young screen talents Iíd seen.
Strong, capable and impossibly pretty, I still canít help but feel it
was our loss as movie lovers that her career in the years that followed was
rather quiet. This is a hard movie
for a young person to carry with emotional conviction and honesty, and her work
was a beautiful revelation.
movies donít need wizards and witches, pocket monsters or chocolate
factoriesÖnot if it has a genuine story to tell and isnít afraid to seek out
the reclusive parts of the human heart that make us all willing to believe.
The Boy Who Could Fly is magic.
for a very young Jason Priestly hanging out in a small role!
anamorphic transfer from Warner Bros. is hit and miss.
Some scenes look rich and beautiful, with strong colors and detail, while
others look a bit soft and compressed, with noticeable haziness and slight
touches of grain. Good enough overall, but could have been better.
audio is listenable, but surprisingly lifeless, despite one of the 80s prettiest
and underrated scores by Bruce Broughton. Dialogue is sometimes so quiet that youíll have to
compensate with the volume knob. Though
the box purports a surround signal, I canít say I noticed any rear stage
action, but I didnít particularly miss it.
A little more care in this department could have worked wonders.
disc boasts a superb commentary track that reunites writer/director Nick Castle
with his three amazing young stars, Jay Underwood, Lucy Deakins and Fred Savage.
Like the movie itself, the track is warm, offers great chemistry and
feels like a lovely trip down memory lane.
There is also an on-camera introduction by Castle and Underwood (which
reminded me, he played Sonny Bono in a recent television movie!), plus a trailer
and talent files. Two print errors
on the box: Ms. Deakins is not in
the new introduction, and Bonnie Bedelia is not on the commentary track.