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Byron Shire
December 7, 2021

Paper Planes

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You get flicks like this from time to time.

They are pure and simple, but more often than not they are made for kids. Which is a great pity, for at a time when the world might soon be devoured by anger, greed and hateful piety, the value of a few timeless verities can never be overstressed.

Robert Connolly’s heartwarming movie opens with young Dylan (Ed Oxenbould) feeding a scrap of meat to a hawk in the WA outback. His passion is flight and the bird is his guiding totem.

When he and his classmates get the opportunity to compete in a nationwide paper plane competition, with the prospect of representing Australia in Tokyo, Dylan’s destiny is made manifest.

First, however, he must win his way through trials and cope with the spiritual collapse of his grieving widowed father (Sam Worthington).

It sounds corny and, to be honest, it is – but its effervescence, its homespun honesty and its joie de vivre is completely irresistible.

Oxenbould (seen recently in Disney’s similarly sweet-natured ‘Alexander and the Terrible Day’) is an extremely engaging young actor and, as Jason, his narky nemesis, Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke is a fine, if broad-brushed bad guy.

When Kimi (Ena Emi), the little Japanese girl, comes on the scene to steal Dylan’s heart (I fell for her, too), the triangle is perfectly set. So good are the youngsters, so classically constructed their personal interactions, that the heavyweight performers in the cast – Worthington, David Wenham and Deborah Mailman – are happily consigned to support status.

There is so much to cherish in this movie, including a fabulous black and white interlude in which Dylan and his Grandpa (Terry Norris) join the Battle of Britain, and a ripper of a throwaway line about Dylan’s fear of needles that pays out gold as the story approaches its climax.

The plot points are textbook, the morality writ large and the characters familiar to us all – in fact, there is absolutely nothing unpredictable that occurs.

But thought it wonderful.

~ John Campbell

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