Radio Flyer 1992
PG-13 | 1h 54min | Drama | 21 February 1992 (USA)
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.
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated PG-13 for theme (child abuse) and violence
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.
Directors: Richard Donner, David Mickey Evans (uncredited)
Writer: David Mickey Evans (as David M. Evans)
Stars: Lorraine Bracco, John Heard, Adam Baldwin
Release Date: 21 February 1992 (USA)
Also Known As: The King of Pacoima
Filming Locations: Hamilton Air Base, Ignacio, California, USA