Starring Ed Oxenbould, Sam Worthington, David Wenham
American family films have become a billion dollar business, much like all the other genre films coming out of Hollywood. I remember when family films like Little Rascals, Hocus Pocus or Trading Mom, didn’t need millions for special effects, they were about values and inspiring a young generation. Paper Planes seems to have those movies I remember in mind, sure it uses some special effects to get the paper planes to go where they need to be, but the lead ingredient here is storytelling as with all Australian film. Paper Planes is the type of family flick that will have parents sniffling and younger kids entertained. The script isn’t afraid to talk about tragedy, bullying or difficult situations, it never patronizes any age group that might be watching.
The death of his mother five months ago has left Dylan Webber (Oxenbould) overcompensating with his father (Worthington). “I don’t get it? You don’t get it,” Dylan scolds his father who sleeps on the couch all day. “I’m 12 and I get it!” Dylan understands his mother isn’t coming back, but he doesn’t wallow in sorrow, instead he is inspired by a paper plane competition that hopes to qualify the winning students in the national championship. Dylan proves a worthy competitor in his class and begins researching with the help of his best friend and senile grandpa how to design the best paper plane. When asked at the competition why he wants to win, he replies simply, to hopefully regain his father’s attention.
The lead ingredient here is storytelling as with all Australian film.
Who knew paper planes were such a competitive international sport. The film explores Australia’s interest in paper plane making and the championships held in Japan. Rising Aussie star Deborah Mailman (The Sapphires, Mental) lands a supporting role alongside Lord of the Rings’ David Wenham. English actor tuned blockbuster star Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) looks completely out of place as the father. It’s like a kid raising a kid. The producers have Worthington in the film because of his mainstream success, but he doesn’t add much, laying around in comfy sweatpants, rarely seen outdoors in the movie. He doesn’t accurately represent the widower with bulging biceps.
Each scene with Dylan, played by Oxenbould of Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and his grandpa (Terry Norris) garner some of the films biggest laughs; not to mention when the senior citizens stroll into the garage sale with the Milkshake song playing. I also admired the honesty that comes from Dylan’s character. When one kid picks up him, he simply looks him in the eye and says, “Don’t be a bully, I can’t stand them,” and that is that. Paper Planes is a simple film, it doesn’t have any far reaching ideas or expectations. If nothing else younger children (and us older ones too) should rediscover the lost art and fascination with paper plane making.
An organic family film that focuses on storytelling over box-office potential.