Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Australia 2015
Directed by
Robert Connolly
96 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Chris Thompson
3.5 stars

Paper Planes

Synopsis: Eleven year-old Dylan (Ed Oxenbould) and his father, Jack (Sam, Worthington), are still grieving after the death of Dylan’s mother in a car accident. But when Dylan is one of the finalists in the district paper plane making competition it sets him on a path both to recovery as well as to the World Paper Plane Championships in Tokyo. The only problems are that the school bully, Jason (Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke) is another finalist, and Dylan’s father is still so lost in grief that he can’t find a way to support his son.

There are two surprises here. The first is that this is a kids’ film that has real live actors in it rather than 3D computer animations. And the second is that it’s that rarest of rare events; an Australian film that is aimed at a family audience.

Director and producer Robert Connolly is best known for strong and reasonably serious grown-up films the calibre of The Bank (2001) and Balibo (2009) so it’s a treat to see him turn his hand to a film for a wider, younger audience.  Paper Planes is a sweet, whimsical and life-affirming story that tackles the tricky subject of grief without any hint of saccharine simplicity while simultaneously offering us a lovely tale that brings the quintessentially analogue pastime of folding paper planes into the pervasive digital world that often dominates contemporary children’s stories.  In fact, it’s a cute touch that after Dylan’s school teacher, Mr Hickenlooper (Peter Rowsthorn), confiscates a digital device early on, the tyranny of screens is largely diminished for the rest of the film.

Of course, kids’ films require kid actors and Connolly has found an excellent cast of young performers here, led by Oxenbould who came to prominence in recent years as the little brother in the television version of Puberty Blues and has recently graduated to international actor status in films the like of M.Night Shyamalan’s The Visit. But as good an actor as he is, his talent is well-matched by great performances from Julian Dennison as his friend and supporter Kevin and Ena Imai as Dylan’s Japanese rival and pre-pubescent puppy-love interest, Kimi. Their beautifully developed, sweet and innocent relationship is one of the strongest elements of the film.

It’s a shame, then, that the two key adult roles are not as strong. Jason’s father Patrick (David Wenham) is a two-dimensional and highly predictable remote father figure, whilst Worthington continues his string of morose, moody, internalised performances that make it increasingly difficult for an audience to connect with him. The saving grace in the older generation is a small but wonderful, anarchic performance by Terry Norris as Dylan’s airforce veteran grandpa.

Paper Planes is not a kids’ film to be tolerated by adults. It’s one to be shared. It has much to say about quite important subjects such as resilience and relationships but achieves it without any didacticism.  It’s messages are hidden deep enough within its story and characters that they are easily received without offering any distraction or interference with the enjoyment of a good yarn.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst