Friday, January 9, 2015

Paper Planes soars with our own heroes

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Opens in Australia:               15th January, 2015
Other Countries:                    Release Information




    Sometimes a film comes along that unites an audience in an experience. Paper Planes is one of those films. I believe cinema-goers felt the same way just over three years ago with the Aussie hit film, Red Dog. It’s been quite a while since a film has appeared on screen that not only entertains but has you skipping out of the cinema clicking your heels with joy. The kids were smiling, the mums, including myself, all admitted to shedding a few tears, and even my tough film critic teenage sons and their friends declared it “pretty good,” which is high praise for a film that didn’t include a single sword, gun, or zombie.
    After a disappointing box office year for Australian film, (for no understandable reason because most of the Australian films last year were very good), Paper Planes has a lot riding on its slender but beautiful wings. If the responses from the preview audience of: “wonderful family film,” “loved it,” “gorgeous,” "simple but beautiful" are anything to go by, then this film might be the one to rise and hopefully soar at the box office and bring back the love affair we have had in the past with Australian films. 
    Robert Connolly, the director and co-screenwriter, admits that he made this film for his children. “Our children shouldn’t think that all the heroes are American. We need Australian heroes on our screens.” 
   How true a statement. And how refreshing to watch Australians craft a piece of entertainment that can stand proudly next to the inundation we currently have of American big studio product. Paper Planes achieved its entertainment goal with no special effects, and no huge mega-budget, but with just a simple story with heart, a clearly dedicated cast and crew, and a remarkable lead in thirteen-year-old Ed Oxenbould. Oxenbould is already making a name for himself in Hollywood starring alongside Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner in the recent Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, in which he played the title role of Alexander.
    In Paper Planes, he is the determined son, Dylan, of Jack (Sam Worthington) who sets his sights on winning the regional paper plane championship, (who knew there was such a thing?) so he can head to Sydney for the national championships. He has something to prove, not just to himself but to his father. At the same time, he worries over, and must encourage his father, who is not coping with the recent death of his wife and Dylan’s mom. Dylan must overcome competitive bullying with little support, fund his travel expenses, and create his own paper plane version of the “winged keel” without guidance.  
    It’s wonderful, rousing stuff, and the mostly child leads are extraordinarily poised and remarkably solid, and one of the main reasons the film works. The early scenes are set in a quintessential Australian country town (filmed in Perth), and even our local Perth Challenge Stadium stars in a scene. Supporting actors David Wenham, Deborah Mailman, Peter Rowsthorn, and Terry Norris bring a real spark and humour to the story. Terry Norris, as Dylan’s cheeky Grandpa is simply perfect.
    When you watch hundreds of films a year, it’s a real thrill and incredibly rare to leave a preview a little lighter in heart than when you sat down. One mother commented to me afterwards that it was wonderful to see a film that her whole family could enjoy with no violence, no swearing, and a beautiful theme, because we are not often presented with that choice by Hollywood.
    So when we are, and especially when it's an Australian film, as with Paper Planes, we should vote with our feet. If Australians don’t go to see Paper Planes then all our children might continue to consume are these big American studio films with the American skew on life. Director Robert Connolly is right; we need Australian heroes speaking in our own accent, telling our stories.
    Hollywood loves Australian cast and crews. Now it’s our turn, as cinema patrons, to love our own films and the talent behind them and embrace them as part of our unique Australian culture. We should be revelling in that. We used to only a decade ago.
   Please go vote with your attendance and bring this lovely film home to success, just like we did with Red Dog. Let’s wrest back our love and pride in Australian film just like we did in 1983, when we brought the America’s Cup back to Australia.
    Paper Planes made my heart soar, for many reasons, and here’s hoping that it will also soar at the box office. I want my children to have Australian heroes. Heck, I want them for myself.


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