Australian film-maker Robert Connolly, known for Balibo and Underground: The Julian Assange Story, enters new territory with this sweet family drama about a 12-year-old boy from rural Western Australia who enters a paper plane competition and finds himself on a path to the world champs.
The story is inspired by real life paper plane champ Dylan Parker but centred on a father and son dealing with the loss of their wife and mother five months earlier. With his father Jack (Sam Worthington) incapacitated with grief, Dylan (Ed Oxenbould) fends for himself and finds some respite learning how to make paper fly.
Surrounded by a colourful cast of characters, including a spritely schoolteacher, a bully-turned-buddy (Shopping's Julian Dennison in a scene-stealing performance), a naughty grandfather and eccentric mentor (Deborah Mailman), Dylan works his way through state and national paper plane competitions, and - if he can raise the money - to Japan for the world champs.
Even with its quirky subject matter and characters, Paper Planes unfolds quite traditionally.
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A laboured script means family-friendly messages are delivered bluntly and the flow isn't helped by the varied tone of performances - some terribly serious, others not.
It's saved by heartfelt moments between Worthington and Oxenbould, although Worthington is incredibly good at doing inconsolable grief and almost overwhelms the feelgood vibe.
Folding and throwing paper isn't a heart-pounding sport to build a film around, but Connolly's simple effects mean the flight scenes are lovely and almost poetic, and as we progress through the competitions, our fondness for Dylan helps build some tension.
It might not be perfect, but Paper Planes is a simple reminder in this high-tech age that joy can be found in a plain piece of paper and that, if my paper plane-laden home is anything to go by, old fashioned films like this can still ignite the imagination.
Cast: Sam Worthington, Ed Oxenbould, Deborah Mailman
Director: Robert Connolly
Running Time: 96 mins
Verdict: Simple and sweet family entertainment.