Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fly Away Home (1996) [PG] ****

Amy Alden (Anna Paquin) is a sweet, normal thirteen-year-old girl, living with her divorced mother in Auckland, New Zealand. Then tragedy strikes in the form of a fatal auto accident.

When Amy awakens in the hospital, she finds only her dad Tom (Jeff Daniels) at her bedside. One month later the two of them arrive at Tom's rural Ontario, Canada home, which Amy had left with her mother ten years earlier. It's springtime and Tom is consumed with his work as an inventor-sculptor and with his hobby as a glider pilot. Amy is lonely, withdrawn, grieving for her lost mother, and resentful of her dad's close friendship with his girlfriend Susan (Dana Delany).

Then a developer's bulldozer destroys the nearby wetlands home of a flock of nesting Canada Geese. Amy finds sixteen eggs, and suddenly she has a purpose in life. She carries the eggs home and builds a makeshift nest. In time the eggs hatch and the goslings imprint on Amy as their mother. They follow her everywhere. Caring for her sixteen baby geese gives Amy a positive new outlook. Then she and Tom learn that the geese are migratory, but need to be shown the way south for the winter... and Tom proposes a novel solution to the problem.

The story of how he teaches Amy to fly an ultralight that looks like an enormous Canada Goose, and how Amy teaches the geese to follow her, forms the core of this incredibly inspirational, uplifting, heart-warming family drama. Screenplay, direction, acting, editing, sets, costumes and soundtrack are all excellent. Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin are especially believable as a father and daughter, estranged by divorce and ten years of separation, who find one another again through a shared goal. If you have preteen or teen-aged children at home, or if you just like a good family drama with a happy ending, don't miss Fly Away Home.

Labels: adventure, drama, family, flying, teenager
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=72, viewers=62)

Fly Away Home - 10,000 Miles - by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wish Upon a Star (1996) [PG] **

13 Going on 30 meets 10 Things I Hate About You in this story of two teenaged sisters, the younger of whom secretly wishes she could be her older sister. When she gets her wish, it's quite a shock at first, but gradually the two girls each learn how difficult it is to walk in another person's shoes, even if that person is her sister. Katherine Heigl plays Alexia, a high school senior, and Danielle Harris plays Hayley, her sophomore sister.

Both girls have the acting talent to give thoughtful, impassioned performances. Unfortunately, while the film's concept is intriguing, the unfocused screenplay by Jessica Barondes (her first writing credit) and casual direction by Blair Treu (her second directing credit) just do not deliver, and it is only in the final ten minutes of the film that it lives up to its full potential, and gets its message across. As a note, Jessica Barondes' third screenwriting credit is for Lucky Seven, a delightful romantic comedy starring Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Patrick Dempsey. Wish Upon a Star will no doubt be appreciated by teenage girls and their mothers, and by fans of Katherine Heigl who are curious about how talented an actress she was in 1996, when she was only eighteen.

Labels: comedy, family, fantasy

Internet Movie Database
Tomatometer (critics=NA, viewers=74)