Paper Planes (2014), is an Australian film directed by Robert Connolly. It is about a young boy Dylan, (Ed Oxenbould, Puberty Blues), from a rural town in New South Wales. He lives alone with his father, (Sam Worthington, Avatar) as they are mourning the loss of his late mother (Nicole Trunfio). Things are pretty sad at home as Dylan’s father, suffering depression from the death of his wife, does little except lie on the couch watching old sports videos. However hope is found in the form of a student teacher at Dylan’s primary school, as he holds a lesson on paper plane making, which culminates in a “throw-off”. Dylan however, is no novice to paper plane making, due to childhood lessons from his mother and unsurprisingly outflies the entire class in an uplifting CGI sequence. With his extraordinary talents revealed to his classmates and teachers, Dylan begins training for the State Championships. As Dylan progresses through each stage of the competition he befriends the current World Champion, Kimi (Ena Imai) and finds rivalry in the privileged bully, Jason (Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke). The film reaches a climax at the World Championships where Dylan faces a dilemma; should he make planes to win? Or does he focus his talents on creating something beautiful?
The cast of Paper Planes is fantastic. Ed Oxenbould shines as the determined Dylan, Sam Worthington gives a great performance as the grieving father trying to get his act together. My favourite character was Dylan’s “Best Mate” and flight trainer Kevin (Julian Dennison). Deborah Mailman plays the daggy competition host Maureen and Peter Rowsthorn gives an amusing portrayal of Dylan’s enthusiastic teacher. Comic Relief comes in the form of the eccentric promiscuous Grandpa (Terry Norris) who helps Dylan’s quest for the perfect Paper Plane by transporting him back to his days as a Wartime pilot. In an amusing scene, Grandpa saves an unprofitable garage sale by bringing his entourage of baked-goods-carrying elderly girlfriends to the tune of “My Milkshake brings all the boys to the yards”. I did however feel that Norris’ performance was a bit weak, and would have been improved had he hammed up his eccentricities for more laughs.
As with all competition driven films, there are only ever three outcomes. Either the protagonist defeats his enemies in a heroic victory, He loses but discovers that it’s not winning, but the experience that counts, or the two rivals tie and make up, forming a friendship of mutual respect. I won’t tell you which one happens in this story, but it does involve all the traditional themes such as the Importance of Family, the Beauty of Creativity, and the Significance of Friendship.
With the aid of CGI, the competition throwing sequences are exciting and tense, with the entire cinema going silent as the audience avidly watched, waiting to see if Dylan’s plane would cross the qualifying line.
Within this film is a subtle nod to the impact of technology on kids and the importance of fun and competition outside of the screen. My favourite line in the film comes during a classroom of children on Iphones and Tablets while Dylan is stuck playing “SNAKE” on his Nokia Brick. The sassy Kevin leans over to Dylan and says “Are you expecting a call from 1997?” When Mr Hickenlooper comes around to collect the technology, Kevin produces numerous hidden phones, game consoles and tablets, in a spoof of what is usually a weapons based farce in films like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Paper Planes is one of the few children’s films that also appeals to adults. With its beautiful storyline and strong performances from a great cast, Paper Planes is a great way to spend your holidays and is out now.