Radio Flyer is a quirky gem of a movie. It’s 1969, and Mike (Wood) and his younger brother Bobby (Jurassic Park’s Joseph Mazzello) are moving with their divorced mother Mary (Lorraine Bracco) from New Jersey to California. It’s not long before Mary remarries, but her new husband – who calls himself The King (Adam Baldwin) – is a drinker and starts beating Bobby. Wanting to protect his little brother, Mike comes up with a plan to turn their red Radio Flyer trolley into a flying machine so they can leave town and never come back.
As much about the children’s imagination as the abuse being suffered, this is narrated by Mike as an adult (Tom Hanks) and comes across as part fantasy, part brutal reality, which at times is an odd mix. But the performances are terrific, especially Mazzello and Wood’s, and the script (by David Mickey Evans, who was the film’s original director before he was replaced by Lethal Weapon’s Richard Donner) is a lovely depiction of brotherly love. Donner’s direction is sadly heavy-handed, however – perhaps this would have been an even better film if Evans had remained at the helm.
Is Radio Flyer suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Both the local bullies and ‘The King’ are sometimes scary and threatening.
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