The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)
Article 5748 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Nick Castle
Featuring Lucy Deakins, Jay Underwood, Bonnie Bedelia
What it is: Almost, but not quite
A formerly married woman and her two children move to a new neighborhood with an autistic boy living with his uncle next door. The boy believes he can fly. Can he, and how does that effect the newcomers?
The opening two-thirds of this movie in which the daughter bit by bit establishes a real relationship with the autistic boy is very effective; there’s something very real and very moving about most of what’s happening. However, even early on there was something that made me feel rather ambivalent about the movie. I think it was that the references to other movies and stories (TO CATCH A THIEF, “Peter Pan”, “Romeo and Juliet”, to name a few) felt a little too self-consciously clever and a bit forced. So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that the final third of the movie (where the issue of whether or not the boy can really fly becomes overly important) disappoints, and it left me with the feeling that the director was more interested in making his own variation on E.T.. At this point, the movie stops feeling like a slice of life and more like an inspirational poster. It’s a shame; for a good portion of its running time it was really something special. I do consider it ironic, though, that the more overt the fantastic content is, the less interesting the movie becomes. I would have liked this one more if it had stayed in the realm of marginalia.