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A father reminisces about his childhood when he and his younger brother moved to a new town with their mother, her new husband and their dog, Shane. When the younger brother is subjected to physical abuse at the hands of their brutal stepfather, Mike decides to convert their toy trolley, the "Radio Flyer", into a plane to fly him to safety. Written by
Alexander Lum <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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'Radio Flyer' is really not the sort of film to watch if you are depressed or have had a violent childhood but the storyline makes for a rather bittersweet film. The film revolves around eight-year old Mike and six-year-old Bobby who move to a small town with their mother and new step-father not long after their biological father abandons them. Instead of heralding a fresh start for the boys, their new life turns to terror and misery when their step-father, who likes to be called the King, physically abuses little Bobby. Mike, desperate to protect his little brother, then plans to turn his Radio Flyer trailer into a plane so they can fly away to safety.
Lorraine Bracco, who plays the boys' mother, was quite good in showing the vulnerability, shame and protectiveness of a mother who realises her children are being harmed by her husband and Stephen Baldwin was very effective in portraying the King's vicious, cruel nature even though we never see his face. However, it is a young Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello, who play Mike and Bobby respectively, who carry the film and both rise to the occasion brilliantly. Elijah Wood's Mike was portrayed as a very sympathetic character who you truly felt was loyal and loving to his mother and brother despite his tender age while Joseph Mazzello was very sweet and engaging as Bobby, a little boy who just couldn't comprehend why an adult who was meant to care for him was instead hurting him.
As I said before, this film is definitely not for the very young or those who are very sensitive to issues of child abuse because Bobby doesn't just get a smack or two in the film, he is brutalised to the point where you just want to reach through to the screen and give the King a taste of his own medicine. It is quite disturbing to actually see on-screen the treatment this six-year-old endures. That said, 'Radio Flyer' is an endearing film about how even the youngest of children can be brave, loyal and have wills of steel. And with the ending being rather ambiguous, viewers can interpret for themselves what fate met Bobby.
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