STUDIO: Warner
MSRP: $14.98
• Commentary by Jay Underwood, Bonnie Bedelia, Lucy Deakins, Fred Savage and Nick Castle
• Introduction by Underwood and Deakins
• Theatrical trailer

The Pitch

“I’ll be done seen about everything when I see a teenager fly.”

The Humans

Jay Underwood (Almost Human), Lucy Deakins (The Great Outdoors), Bonnie Bedelia, (Heart Like a Wheel) Fred Savage (The Wizard), Fred Gwynne (My Cousin Vinny), Colleen Dewhurst (The Dead Zone), Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life), Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

The Nutshell

New-kid-in-town Millie (Deakins) suspects that Eric (Underwood), the weird, quiet boy next door, is more than just ‘special’. Guess his surprise talent.

The Lowdown

Writer/director Nick Castle’s previous movie was the cult classic The Last Starfighter. In some ways The Boy Who Could Fly (1986) is the flipside of that film, complete with a bratty little brother named Louis. There’s more than a little of Starfighter’s Maggie in Boy’s Millie, with a more innocent point-of-view: her would-be boyfriend’s literal flights of fancy are what attract her to him, and have yet to become impediments to a healthy relationship. Whether Millie and Eric have any kind of future together is, so to speak, left up in the air.

The cast is excellent. Deakins and Underwood (abetted by several veteran supporting players) give deeply felt, empathetic performances and it’s too bad we haven’t seen more of them in recent years.

Not to spoil anything, but it all comes down to the flying sequences. 20 years on, it’s interesting to see how they stack up against contemporary visual effects. The first flight is classic ‘80s technique: matte paintings, miniatures, motion-control, and a fog machine. It won’t fool anyone, but it fits the dreamlike intent of the scene. Castle saves his big treat (and probably most of his budget) for the finale— wire-work, live on location, in an extended and satisfying sequence. I’m a big fan of practical effects—even when it’s clear that there’s some kind of fakery going on you still know you’re looking at something real, and not, say, a photorealistic but still weirdly plastic CG representation. Hint.

The Package

Judging from this disc’s fine, retro snapper case (and a 2003 copyright on the supplements), Warner Bros wasn’t in any rush to release it. I’m thinking we can credit this year’s Superman blitz for its coming out at all. There’s no lack of love for the movie on the DVD itself: the principal cast members are reunited on the commentary track and sound proud to be there. The theatrical trailer is a treat too.

"I’ll still kick your ass at Nintendo any day."

8 out of 10