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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Fly Away Home (1996)



Reviews and Comments

Aside from a small bratty-kid-with-spineless-parent annoyance and an overly extreme environmentalist message, Carroll Ballard's Fly Away Home is a remarkable (and cute!) family film. Anna Paquin stars as a child who has lost her mother in a car accident and moves in with her eccentric inventor father. She finds abandoned goose eggs in the woods and brings them home where they soon hatch. She raises sixteen young geese and in the process grows closer to her father. But there's one challenge left ahead of them. Geese learn to fly south for the winter by following their parents. Without parents to teach them the way, they're in big trouble.

The "external" part of the plot -- when Paquin, her dad (Jeff Bridges), and their friends interact with the rest of the world -- is superficial and unlikely. One particular peeve of mine is how important the film found it to save a wetland in North Carolina which birds might use during the winter from being built upon by evil land developers. It sounds like a worthy cause, except that this particular wetland isn't used by migrating birds until humans deliberately introduce them to it. The unpleasant reality many extreme environmentalists fail to face is that people have to live somewhere. Housing developments are necessary, plain and simple. By driving developers away from land nature doesn't seem to be using in the first place, they have to go somewhere else, perhaps somewhere that is already being used by birds and/or animals. (Now there may well be other reasons for saving the particular wetland in the film, but the film doesn't present any.) Lest I dwell too much on this comparatively minor point in the film, I'll leave it at that and point out that I didn't rate this film any lower simply because it takes an extreme stance that I do not.

Fortunately, though the film makes a definite statement about nature in general, the heart of the film is the specific story of Paquin's character and the sixteen geese she raises. It survives Paquin's character's brattiness on the cuteness of the baby geese, then on the thrill of adventure when things really get going. The young and young at heart should get a kick out of this fun family film.