The Boy Who Could Fly follows the story of a young girl and her family that have just moved into a new neighborhood. Quickly, she becomes fascinated by her neighbor: An autistic boy her age who seems to always be readying himself to fly. Why? Because he believes he can do it. For too long, The Boy Who Could Fly feels like it doesn’t have a particular focus, throwing in subplot after subplot about the family adjusting to their new life. But after a while it’s easy to realize that the movie isn’t so interested in the titular character, but rather, his effect on everyone around him. Writer and director Nick Castle establishes a sense of reality through the family drama, slowly bringing in the more fantastical elements.
With its touches of magical realism and focus on children, family and suburbia, the move joins the league of other “Amblin-esque” films of the 80s. That’s not to say that writer/director Nick Castle was attempting to imitate themm just that it feels right in line with the likes of E.T., The Monster Squad and The Goonies. The problem with this movie is that it feels like it needs a more assured director such as Spielberg or Richard Donner. The placement of music or emphasizing certain sentimental elements too much takes away from the movie, and it’s at these worst parts of the movie where it feels more like a wannabe rather than a sincere work. At the same time, in terms of visuals, the movie feels like it should be stronger. These feel like odd missteps for Castle given that his previous film The Last Starfighter falls under the same leagues, but has a confidence that this movie lacks, despite this being a much simpler, more grounded story.
Thankfully, the movie ends perfectly. It does go on for a bit longer than it should, but the ending is charming and surprising and everything comes perfectly together into place. Its flaws may be the reason why The Boy Who Could Fly hasn’t quite reached a classic status, but the movie has its fans and it’s easy to see why. It’s charming and even a little magical when it works.
You can get The Boy Who Could Fly here.