Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Boy Who Could Fly

Things that seem to characterize my rest days of late include these two:

> Sleeping

> Watching movies on cable

I’m way past the point of complaining about not being able to do anything exciting, or something substantial, when I’m off work. Now I just appreciate that days as they come. And there’s no problem there.

One of the films I saw over my weekend (my offs this week are actually workdays for most: Monday and Tuesday), is one from the 80s. I don’t ever remember seeing this is a kid, nor do I recall seeing it on TV or on VHS/Betamax. So though this is an old film, it was completely new to me.


The film starts with teenaged Milly, her little brother Louis, and their Mom, moving in to their new home in the suburbs. She picks her room, opens her window, and says Hi to the neighbor, who doesn’t seem to notice her.

As Milly and her small family get acquainted with their new home, school, and work, she also gets to know more about the strange boy living across her window.

Eric Gibb is autistic. He thinks he can fly. He has lived with his uncle since he lost his parents to a plane crash when he was 5. He’s under constant threat of institutionalization because of his condition, and also because his alcoholic uncle is unfit to care for him. Uncle Hugo also believes that Eric can fly – that’s probably why he keeps on drinking.  Only his English teacher fights to keep him in a normal home and in a normal school. Milly is soon recruited into this effort, when the teacher notices how Eric started mimicking the girl’s every move.

Fred Savage is in this movie, a very young Fred Savage. He keeps getting sent home with notes from the teacher about the toys he brings to school. He convinces his sister to sign for Mom so she never finds out. Eventually though, she does. He has moments when, in an effort to affront the bullies who won’t let him ride his ATV-looking bike around the block, his plan fails and the bullies tear his ride apart, throwing ATV parts over the hedge and all over their front lawn. His dog Max, who was supposed to attack the bullies’ Doberman was cowering across the street, hiding behind the bushes. In anger, Louis calls to Max and demands him to come over, RIGHT NOW. The dog hesitates, then obeys. But there was an oncoming car that hits him. While Max was recuperating at the vet’s, Louis shows tender moments. How he truly misses his dad and thinks that dad gave up and didn’t fight the Cancer. And how Max will die and leave too.

But he gets moment of triumph when he maps out another plan, and finally succeeds in going around the block, armed with a piss-filled-water-gun, and the help of the still-recovering Max. Smile

Meanwhile, Milly almost gives up on teaching Eric. She is encouraged though when she sees him smile on his own, not just because he copies her. And that’s when things really start to go better. Milly finds herself even falling for the quiet boy.

So does Eric really fly? It is fully revealed in the film of course. Smile

Maybe this trailer will clue you in?


Here’s another review of the film that I enjoyed reading, including the comments. Smile

Yay for films from the 80s! Cheers to young love! And hurray for families coping with loss and change!