Australians aren’t one to beat around the bush - which is why in the new family film ‘Paper Planes’, it should come as no surprise that it takes only approximately five minutes to meet country kid Dylan (Ed Oxenbould), his depressed dad (Sam Worthington) who sleeps on the couch all day when he’s not watching old VHS sports tapes, his eccentric and loveable teacher Mr Hickenlooper (Peter Rowsthorn) and the student teacher who, after a friendly competition among the class, asks Dylan if he’s ever considered a career in paper planes. Right, straight into it then. The absence of a mother figure takes a while to be explained, but we do know it’s the cause of the father's depressive state resulting in a strained father/son relationship - insert drama here.
Encouraged to try out for the championship paper plane competition, Dylan learns all there is to know on the subject of flight, while trying to will his dad out of current state, and befriending a former foe. Dominating the regional and national competitions along with privileged brat Jason (Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke), Dylan and his fellow international competitors earn themselves a spot at the world championships in Japan, all while still facing physical and emotional enemies and a father he won’t give up on.
While Australian cinema certainly knows its way around a comedy or a crime drama, it hasn’t quite mastered the art of emotional young father/son scenes that add legitimacy to an otherwise fluffy tale about paper plane comps. However, overwrought scenes on dealing with grief and abandonment aside, we do have quite the enjoyable family feast here. Young player Oxenbould ('Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day') is fast becoming an international star, so enjoy him back home while we still can. Alas, it’s Kiwi kid Julian Dennison as Dylan’s class bully turned best mate who steals the show and the laughs here.
‘Paper Planes’ is cute, sentimental, and funny - and may very well inspire you and your kids to put down the phones, pick up a piece of paper and turn it into something unique and beautiful.