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A powerful, touching, misunderstood film
bymarkclark.com10 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This film was directed by Richard Donner, of SUPERMAN and LETHAL WEAPON fame, but it couldn't be more different than those films. It's a quiet, poetic film about two young boys (Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzallo), one of whom is being brutally abused by their stepfather (whose face is never seen).

The film was a commercial flop, and it received terrible reviews on its initial release, but I think that was because most critics (and audiences) didn't understand the movie. It features an unreliable narrator (played by Tom Hanks) and several Fellini-like breaks from reality. Most critics harped on the film's finale as a weak point, but I think it actually works beautifully, if you approach it with the proper understanding.


I don't think you can take the finale (wherein the younger brother flies away in his rickety homemade airplane) at face value. This seems to be another break from reality (like the sequences with the buffalo). Either this is a fantasy way for the Tom Hanks character to deal with his brother's death or, more likely, there really weren't two brothers at all. The older brother invented the younger brother, who is contstantly abused, as a coping mechanism for dealing with the fact that he HIMSELF was being abused by "The King." The older brother survives and the younger brother "dies" when the abuse finally stops. Or something. In any case, the ending cannot be taken literally. And it's not really that important that we fully understand exactly what happened. What matters is that we understand the emotional and developmental effect these events had on the Hanks character.


Back in the day, I was one of the very few critics who gave this film a positive review, and I'm glad I did. I found it emotionally gripping and, at points, almost too realistic to watch comfortably. It captures the joy of boyhood and -- although I wouldn't know from personal experience, thank God -- seems to capture the terror of abuse just as accurately. A very powerful, rewarding film.

Highly recommended.
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Seriously interesting slice of bittersweet magic realism
fertilecelluloid2 February 2006
This bittersweet slice of magic realism had a checkered production history (director/writer replaced) and tanked at the box office, but it's a helluva film.

Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello are pre-teen brothers whose flaky mom (Lorraine Bracco) shacks up with a mean-spirited alcoholic (Adam Baldwin). During his drinking bouts, Baldwin physically abuses Mazzello and manipulates him into remaining silent about his situation. But when Wood cottons on to what's happening, the boys put their heads together and hatch a fantastique solution to Mazzello's devastating dilemma.

I love films that mix fantasy and dark reality. They are rarely successful financially ("Lawn Dogs" is a similar example), but they are usually original and intriguing.

The drunk Baldwin is shot from a low, child's perspective and his head is deliberately lopped off below the top of frame. This device allows us to judge him purely by his actions and as a totally physicalized beast. Both Wood and Mazzello are excellent, and they pull us effortlessly into their dark, frightening world.

The "radio flyer" of the title is a small red wagon kids transport their belongings in. Here it transports a dream.

Seriously interesting stuff.
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great acting by two young actors in heavy film with cryptic ending
abbotand22 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Even people who dislike the film, usually because they find the ending confused, should appreciate the strong acting of Elijah Wood & Joseph Mazello who played the two young leads in this movie.

Spoiler WARNING: At a literal level, the ending makes no sense. People who think the ending makes some sense at other levels are divided between those who 1) think the younger brother was killed by the step-father either the one time Mike (the older boy) was away dealing with the neighborhood gang, or flew off the wishing spot in his wagon to escape the situation through death & those 2) who think the younger brother is imaginary & his flying off in the wagon transformed into a flying machine signals his overcoming the abusive situation.

I favor 2). It makes a lot of sense in terms of the way many children deal with abusive situations. It is not uncommon for an abused child to split his or her psyche & project the abused self into something else; a stuffed animal, even an imaginary friend. This way, it makes a lot more sense that it is always the younger boy who is abused & never Mike. In reality, it is unlikely for one of two brothers to get all the abuse, although that does happen. Also, it is Bobby, the younger brother who is also the encouraging one, the one who insists that they can overcome the situation. Also, the death of a real-life sibling through abuse would have been too shattering for an adult with this in his history to transform into as upbeat a fantasy ending as this.
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Imagination is the Key
danldhatu25 May 2001
Warning: Spoilers
WARNING-SPOILERS! Having looked over the other user comments, I find myself puzzled as to why nobody seems to have come up with a most obvious interpretation of this movie's ending. There are, after all, some clues that so much of this story is only in Mike's imagination. And yet people go on about how the ending is "unrealistic." Well, DUH-UH! (Major Spoiler and my own take on it.) Bobby DOESN'T REALLY EXIST! He never did! He is Mike's IMAGINARY PLAYMATE! It so happens that Mike must let his imaginary playmate go right at the same time that the King is arrested, and so the two events come together in Mike's mind. Well, that's my two cent's worth.
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zootsuit9826 March 2005
In reply to "State of Confusion" The dogs injuries do seem to disappear rather abruptly, but that may have only been an error in continuity. But, as for the kids trying to build a plane out of junk, it's just a simple matter of imagination. These are two very young kids who have extremely active imaginations and they must rely on those imaginations to keep themselves from being exposed to the reality of the level of abuse that goes on in their home from their stepfather. As for the stepfather, it's very interesting that the director chose to no show his face. That makes him seem more monstrous. If you show his face, then that character becomes a person and not just this "monster" who is terrorizing the childhood of these two innocent children. By showing only the concequences of his abuse and not focusing scenes on the abuse itself, the children then become the main focus of the movie. This film has no loose ends, but runs just as a father's tale to his children would. It has embelleshments. This is a fine American classic.
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A woeful tale, wonderfully told
Eowyn831 January 2000
Everything about this film is simply incredible. You truly take this journey through the eyes and soul of a child.

I do feel it is important to note this tale is about child abuse. Don't rent it for your kids thinking it is a fun, disney-esque film.
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A Fantastic Ending
Killgore.21 December 1999
Most people dislike this movie because of the ending. That is because of their own limited imaginations, a point I think Richard Donner was trying to make throughout the movie. They try to criticize the film on their own miotic interpretation. Americans aren't used to the subtle, especially from the Lethal Donner. I think those people need to watch it again, and especially pay attention to the narration. Truth is in the mind of the beholder. The movie is about the innocence of childhood- the grandness of being naive and imaginative-being ripped apart by an abusive adult. Just as they never REALLY seen the boogie man, Bobby never REALLY flew away. Mike deceived himself into believing that his brother flew away to hide from the fact that his brother died. Listen to his words, and watch his mother. It is very subtle, and I have had this argument 100 times before (see, I have only had it probably 5 times but I have deceived myself into thinking it is many more). Don't feel bad. I have found that only 1 out of 10 people that have seen the movie
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Oscar-worthy performance by both Wood & Mazzello
TDP30 August 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure as to call this movie a children's drama or a fantasy film. When I first watched this I couldn't really make out the ending and that's the only part of movie that's seemed to lack depth and left me a bit depressed for awhile. Then I watched it a second time and realised how great the acting was and was clueless as to why it received the meager attention it did at the time.

Unforgettable performances by the young Mazzello and Wood should have made this film a classic.

Although the it was probably intended to be a fantasy/drama by the original writer/director (Evans), once Donner took over he presumably made it with a more dramatical outlook especially the ending, which left a lot to be desired as to what really happened to Bobby - Was he killed?, did he escape & really do all those fantastic journeys?, or was it just an imaginary story woven by Hanks to prove a point to the kids?

But in all it didn't provide the closure of a happy ending that we are so used to in a children's film. Perhaps it's because it's not just that.

To see what may have been a more classical ending check out the Official Elijah Wood Site where you'll find the First rough draft script of the conclusion of the movie(presumably by the original writer)

Also a note of the music by Hans Zimmer which is one the best Soundtracks I've ever heard, a mixture of childish and dark sentiments throughout the movie. A great CD to get hold of if you can.
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What a touching flick!
Patski218 March 2000
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was great. Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello were wonderful. I watched this movie with tears in my eyes, hugging my two small boys and wondering how someone could treat children the way The King treated those boys, especially Bobby.

This film will make you laugh and cry, all within the span of about 10 minutes at the end.

WARNING!!!!! The following paragraphs contain SPOILERS to the ending.

I think many commenting on this film completely miss the point of the ending. To me, the ending seemed stupid until Tom Hanks explained to his kids that "History comes from the mind of the one telling the story. You understand that, right?" These were not his exact words but they are something to that effect.

Bobby did not fly away. Bobby died trying to fly away. I think that both boys knew Bobby's fate before they went up the hill, but they both realised that this was his escape from the abuse he would continue to suffer otherwise. Michael learned to cope with Bobby's death by making himself believe that Bobby was still alive, flying around the country.
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Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello,such bright young talents!
menaka12 April 2002
Sure this movie is kind of unrealistic and sometimes boring but all in all it's a very sweet movie that evokes many wonderful childhood memories.Would I have watched Radio Flyer had it not starred Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello?Perhaps not.Wood and Mazzello are incredible in their roles as Mike and Bobby,considering they were only 9 and 7 at the time they started filming the movie.The rest of the cast is alright,no particularly impressive performances from any of them but like I said it's Wood and Mazzello who carry the show through.There was one big surprise though,Tom Hanks.As narrator,well,let's just say after he started off at the beginning of the movie I was this close to switching the T.V off and thus missing quite a good movie. I was disappointed to find out that Radio Flyer didn't exactly hit it off at the box office,I suppose juggling such themes as child abuse and building getaway planes for a 7 year old to fly can be a difficult task. However despite its faults ,I found myself shouting insults at The King when he hit Bobby and laughing at the antics of the boys and their dog Shane.Sure you need a good imagination to enjoy it but we can cough a little of that up can't we?!
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This film changed my life
elfasi6 July 2001
Where do I begin? I first saw this film in 1995 and had no idea of what to expect, I was actually at the time searching out films that Elijah Wood had starred in and this one had come highly recommended. I sat down and watched the film once and didn't know what to think. I watched it a second time a few days later and the floodgates just opened. Never before in my life had I ever really cried while watching a film, and I was blubbing, every high and low the film I was riding right alongside, on an emotional roller coaster.

It struck such an emotional chord in me on many levels, the intense sadness and elation we see in the film, the wonder and innocence of childhood, the yearning for a time that once was, but is no more. More than anything, this film reminded me of my childhood (except for the abuse) during a time in my life when I'd shrugged off my childhood some years before and not even really noticed, I'd given it up and moved on to a life entirely devoid of it. The Radio flyer made me wake up and suddenly realise what I'd given up without really even noticing. From that day forward I immediately set about to change my life and myself, and I did.

This is going to sound corny but basically I rediscovered my inner child, I started down a path that has been ongoing over the past 6 years and has changed me so much, so much for the better, embracing and living that part of myself. I've been finding out who I really am. I don't think it was simply a case of the right film coming along at a crucial moment of my life, The Radio Flyer really did something very special, and I still look upon it as an incredible piece of work in all respects, an incredible film.

In closing I cannot fail to mention the music. I am a great fan of Hans Zimmer and this is among his very finest works. The sheer breadth and depth of emotional expression he has put into the score of this film is a huge part of what makes the film what it is to me. Like subtitles to a foreign language film, his soaring music is a crib sheet to the intense emotions this film will take you through. Find the soundtrack at all costs, it was sadly deleted long ago, I never expected to find it but amazingly did, after chatting with someone I met on a Hans Zimmer fansite guest book.

Watch this film, let yourself live the emotions, don't get bogged in trivial nitpicking of the ending, be that child again
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Clever idea
Jaggaj13 January 2001
An imaginative film that opens the imagination of one soul. A young boy and his brother are having a tough life. They suffer an abusive, alcholic father as well as neighbourhood bullies with only their dependable dog as protection.

To escape their existance they build the 'Radio Flyer' a machine they believe will fly and protect them from their troubles.

Good acting and a clever concept will leave you feeling fulfilled however the ending is relatively far fetched.

A good movie.
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one of the worst pieces of melodramatic crap ever foisted upon an unsuspecting public
jt19994 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Back in the dark days of 1990, the hoped-for Heir to the Spielberg Throne (after the failure of supposed whiz-kid Phil Joanou) was mistakenly believed to be pretentious Spielberg wannabe David Mickey Evans. Evans managed to fleece the studios for over a million dollars, suckering baby-boomer executives into believing his screenplay -- a combination of nostalgic, 1960s references and a disturbing drama about child abuse -- somehow equaled good storytelling, and a decent film.

As Rod Stewart once sang, "look how wrong you can be."

But the novice's artsy-fartsy, "E.T."-inspired script convinced enough people he was the next Chosen One -- the New Spielberg -- and so a deal was struck to not only buy the script for more money than 99 percent of the world's population will ever see in their lifetime, but for Evans to direct the film as well -- even though he'd had never directed anything in his life.

Hey, how hard can it be to be another film-making genius, after all?

Two weeks into the shoot, Columbia found out. His dailies were called "totally unusable" by the studio -- or at least those level-headed enough to not to have fallen under the E.N.C. (Emperor's New Clothes) spell. All his footage was scrapped and recycled into guitar pics.

So what's a studio to do after sinking 10 or 20 million dollars into something they still believed represented the Resurrection of Steven Spielberg? Hire Spielberg himself to save the day? Columbia probably tried that.

Enter old pro Richard Donner. Hey, he may not be a cinematic genius, but he gets the job done. "Superman" wasn't too bad, after all -- and the first "Lethal Weapon" was pretty good.

So Donner steps in and grabs the directorial reins. Fortunately he manages to convince Columbia that the worst of the film's insipid fantasy sequences -- which would have played out like a ten year-old's acid trip -- have to go. Unfortunately, he leaves in the Crying Buffalo (ooh, how poetic) and the ridiculous, pseudo-Spielberg fantasy ending, complete with Clueless Mom perfectly content for the rest of her life to get postcards from her missing son as he circles the globe in his red wagon. Right.

But Donner did manage to get a decent performance out of Elijah Wood. And Lorraine Bracco as the Idiot Mom wasn't bad either. Maybe Donner should be reevaluated. Maybe he's not such a phony Hollywood hack as everyone has always believed.

The only reason I'm giving this over-baked misfire a 2 rating is that someone was smart enough to cast the great John Heard (but in the wrong part, of course). The kids do okay... though Tom Hanks' horrible, overly-explanatory narration nearly destroys every scene it intrudes upon.

One might think that after the David Mickey Evanses and Phil Joanous and Troy Duffys of the world, the studios might finally wise up. One might hope that these hype-driven film-making debacles might prevent the Emperor's New Clothes syndrome from ever rearing its ugly head again.

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An intriguing movie with an unexpected ending.
kelleyc24 January 2000
I rented the movie and liked it so much that I bought it. Elijah Wood (Mikey) and Joseph Mazello (Bobby) are outstanding as the two boys. Their new stepfather physically abuses Bobby. The abuse is implied, for the most part, not seen, and roused a lot of passion in me to help abused children. There is a magical quality to the movie as the boys' imagination helps them find a way to deal with the abuse. You have to try to understand the story from a child's point of view. I'm still thinking about the ending. I've watched the movie 3 or 4 times and each time I think of possible new meanings. I'm not sure exactly what Richard Donner intended me to think, but this is an excellent film! Joseph Mazello and Elijah Wood will make you go hug your kids.
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Child Abuse Doesn't Make For Fun Movie
ccthemovieman-113 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Even though this was a well-told story, I found it too unpleasant. The main subject is child abuse, which is never fun to see - a sordid topic. Add to that a lot of profanity by the drunker-abuser husband and a GD by a little kid, no less - and this movie turned me off as far as ever seeing it again.

Also portrayed in here were punks picking on the two little boys, another unpleasant viewing experience. The realism of the story takes a swan dive when one of the boys flies away on a home-made airplane! Give me a break!

The only positive, enjoyable part of this movie is seeing the nice, loving and touching relationship between the two young brothers, played by Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazello. The latter became a familiar face in the next couple of years with big roles in Jurassic Park, Shadlowlands and The River Wild. Wood, of course, didn't hit it big until a decade later but, he made it very big In The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Those two kids, and narration by an unbilled Tom Hanks, are the only facets of this film I liked.
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Rather poignant
cosmic_quest19 April 2006
'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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frustration---100% SPOILER Warning: Spoilers

I have to add my name to the list of folks who feel that the other viewers just don't get it. But no one has even mentioned the "s" word so far as I have seen.

While I agree that the kid died I think we can be more specific: he committed suicide. He races down the slope in an old wagon, shoots off the cliff and..."flies away". Maybe the whole account of the form of death is allegory or maybe he does commit suicide in a wagon as laid out. In either case, he "flies away" (c'mon, not that tough a metaphor).

Maybe I just have a thing for Tom Hanks, but I was ok with the narration. Besides he is raising $ for the WW2 memorial and you gotta love him for that.

Oh yeah, I loved the movie and found it incredibly moving.
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Excellent acting in a highly underrated film
ivony2 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Basically, Radio Flyer is a story with two main themes: the horrors of child abuse and the seemingly inevitable loss of innocence and imagination. Mike (Elijah Wood) and Bobby (Joseph Mazzello) are moved to a new town with their mother Mary (Lorraine Bracco) who meets "The King" (Adam Baldwin). It isn't long before The King moves in with the three and begins taking his frustrations out on young Bobby. Mike does his best to try and protect his little brother, but has promised Bobby he would not tell. So, in the hopes of saving his little brother, Mike comes up with "The Big Idea".

Both Mazzello and Wood do a fantabulous job playing the young brothers. Their acting is superb and Mazzello plays the part of an abused child in a fashion that could put most adult actors to shame. It's just too bad we don't see much of this young actor any longer. Wood is equally good, but he's always been a fantastic child actor and has proven himself once again in Radio Flyer.

You don't see much of Bracco throughout the movie, but I think that was rather the point: a single, working mother who wasn't home much. Quite possibly this is how she "missed" much of what was happening to her son(s). Even when she does discover, however, you go from being proud of her for protecting her children to hating her for allowing The King back into their lives. I didn't find this unrealistic in the least. This happens all too often, unfortunately.

The part of The King was done well although you didn't see much of the actor himself. The direction in scenes with the King is incredible...never really truly showing his face. This made him much more menacing and also allowed the audience to view him through more child-like eyes.

I've read that not a lot of people found this movie to be realistic. I disagree entirely. The fact that Mike was not abused while Bobby was isn't all that uncommon. Many abusers prey on the weakest, and undoubtedly Bobby was the "weaker" of the two brothers. Furthermore, many abusers also go after those that are less likely to tell. Mike probably would have said something, and would have if not for the promise he made to Bobby. As far as the ending, granted, if you took it at face value without any thought, not only are you going to miss the point entirely, but of course you're going to end up thinking the movie is entirely unrealistic and full of "fluff".


My take on the ending: I do not believe that Mike was an only child and Bobby was his imaginary friend or the personification of his "inner self". While I find that a valid argument, to me it simply didn't fit in with the movie itself. The older Mike (Tom Hanks) mentions Bobby to his young sons and I doubt that would be done had Bobby never really existed. Furthermore, the King would not have been arrested that last time at the wishing spot (thus the end of "Bobby the inner child") due to the fact that he hadn't yet done anything (at least not since the LAST time he was arrested). Sure, he was about to, but he'd not have been arrested for "thinking about hitting" the boys. Nevertheless, I believe that Bobby truly existed and was killed by The King. As far as the movie goes, Mike did everything his young mind could think of in order to save Bobby. He kept him out all day, made the "monster repellent" and yes, I believe he tried to make the Radio Flyer really fly. However, before Mike had a chance to get Bobby to safety, The King killed Bobby. It was easier for his young mind to believe that he got Bobby away and Bobby was OK. As for the postcards, it's not unthinkable that those were written by Mike as a way to enforce his belief that his brother was still alive.

As the older Mike said "At least that's how I choose to remember it". That was a huge clue that Bobby ended up dying and Mike simply couldn't handle the guilt that he couldn't save his little brother.

End Spoilers

Overall, I give the movie a 9/10. Although it touches on a horrible subject, it is done with tact and in such a way that even younger kids can watch the movie. Highly recommended.
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A movie thats gets in your gut and makes your emotions pour out.
Andrew-8126 January 1999
When I first saw this movie, I first started to hate it because of the violence of abuse, but what got to me, was the music of the movie, and the acting that went with it. I, admit, a dream about a talking buffalo was a little weird, but what got to me was the music through the dream, and the VERY COOL performances of Elijah Wood, as the confused brother, torn between about what he knows, and what he can not say. Promises not to say as a special PACT with his younger brother, who tells him not to say anything to the mother.. A BRILLANT DEBUT of Joseph Mazzello, who moves you with the music, as he see his destiny, before it happens, of getting away from the King, the Abuser, by building a airplane, out of a toy wagon. Let me tell, nothing gets you like the end of the movie, and the younger brother is ready to take off the flyer, they built. One brother gives his favorite jacket, as sign of love to remember him by. Out of *****, I give this movie a *****.
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Amazing job by kids - may bring tears but won't break your heart
Echo002 February 2002
Young Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello are outstanding in this excellent film about two boys who have promised to "take care of their mother," and how they cope when their new stepfather begins beating the younger boy. The supporting cast around the boys is top-notch as well. The script really gets inside the mind and heart of an imaginative child. It's hard to believe Wood could grow up to look anything like Tom Hanks, but that's nothing new in Hollywood. That's honestly my only criticism of the film.
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I disagree
TiggerRoo9 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I hated this movie it was sooo unrealistic and just the thought of a kid "flying" away from his problems instead of letting his Mom take care of things is horrific.... as if a Mom would be OK with her youngest son disappearing... Yea RIGHT!! no way

Anyone who says this is a great movie must not have kids

I was a recently separated Mom in a custody battle when I saw this movie and I was really unnerved by this nightmarish movie scared the H*ll out of me... I can't imagine what the producers of this movie was thinking but it should never been advertised as a Family movie is should have been in the Horror section.
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neiljones19818 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
***contains spoilers***

Okay, first things first, one of the best things to come out of this movie was Joseph Mazzello in this, his first major role ever at the age of 8. Who was to know that one year later we'd see him again in Jurassic Park? As for Elijah Wood - well, Lord Of The Rings, need I say any more?

The acting talent of these two is already evident in Radio Flyer. According to Joseph Mazzello's official site, he and Elijah bonded like superglue while working on the movie and it really does show as well on screen. You believe that they are screen brothers.

Across the movie as a whole, it starts off as a feelgood yarn with a slight tint of horror (the character of "The King" who is, to all intents and purposes, a child beater). Fortunately we don't see any of that child beating stuff (thank goodness) but it's key to the final section of the movie as is the presence of a pull truck with the words "Radio Flyer" written across the side of it.

The movie loses all grip of reality (depending on which level you're working on - see later) once we get into the final segment. Basically, Radio Flyer the pull-truck morphs into a mini aeroplane that's supposedly capable of flying on the back of a lawnmower engine and, allegedly, across the sea. Joseph Mazzello's character sends all kinds of postcards to chart his journey across the world on his lawnmower engine powered "plane".

This movie works on two levels: Is Tom Hanks's character (he plays the older character that Elijah Wood plays as a boy) basically making this stuff up as he goes along (the premise is he's talking to some other boys), or did it fall flat on its face after Joe's character disappeared out of sight of Elijah's character? On one level, you can think he's making this stuff up because there's no way that a) the machine can be built as quick as it was and by two young boys in that fashion, and not fall apart as it runs down the hill, and b) even if it was able to take off, there's no way it would have made it across the land let alone all these far away destinations depicted in the movie. Plus he'd never been able to get across the airfield without being spotted.

The second school of thought for this movie is that Joe Mazzello's character died in one of two ways: On his "journey", or at the hands of "The King". Therefore Tom Hanks is just recalling his version of events in a "this is what should have happened" type way. I am inclined to argue that it was more likely to be the former, it being quite likely that Joe's character crashed the flyer and broke his neck and so died in what I suppose would be a better way than at the mercy of "The King".

Apart from that though, it's not a bad movie, a touch of escapism and worth a watch every now and then. It's not the best work of Joe Mazzello and Elijah Wood (see 'The Cure' and 'Lord Of The Rings' respectively) but it's not bad either.
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Hard subject to watch.
Peach-224 January 1999
I liked this film, but the subject matter was very hard to watch. The abuse in this film was unexpected and it was never onscreen, but it was still a difficult subject. The film is interesting and quite a departure for the director, Richard Donner. Good film, but if you cringe at the idea of child abuse, look elsewhere.
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Three tissues at least.
shneur26 March 2005
This is one of my all-time favorites. It is Elijah Wood coming into his best period, and Joseph Mazzello also showing his great potential. The portrayal of their brutal abuse, including the singling out of one child for battering while the other must look on, is all too veridical. However, their response to it is a testimonial to the bravery, initiative, creativity and mutual love of children at their finest. BTW, I may be a bit slow, but it wasn't until my third viewing that I caught the twist at the very end, which turns the "logic" of the retrospective narration all askew. Once again, I take the opportunity to loudly protest the billings: What would happen to a movie where two characters occupy maybe 90% of the action and yet receive FOURTH and FIFTH billing just because they're black, or female?
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A confused, pasted together movie.
fester-513 October 1998
Warning: Spoilers
This was one of the most mixed up films I have ever seen. Everything in the movie seemed to be attached to justify some other element that had been glued on. There is even a talking buffalo that wants his wet nose rubbed to make the magic happen. Even the brutal father seems to be stuck in just to give the kids an excuse to fly away in a wagon. It was laughable, but in an uncomfortable way because of the serious subjects that seemed to be used just to set up the plot.
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