Paper Planes (3 stars)

Paper Planes

Predictable but touching Aussie kids' film, with Ed Oxenbould and Sam Worthington

These days kids' films are largely confined to computer-animated adventures or YA fantasy. So there’s something heartening about Australian director Robert Connolly’s feel-good drama Paper Planes. Set in New South Wales, the hero is Dylan (Ed Oxenbould), a 12-year-old whose problems are all too real. After his mother's death in a car accident, his father Jack (Sam Worthington) has sunk into a depression.

Fortunately, school proves a distraction – not least when an origami expert arrives to give a demonstration in paper plane folding. Dylan’s effort stays in the air the longest, and he becomes enamoured with this old-fashioned art-form. Soon enough, he’s competing in the regional heats, where he’s plagued by Jason (Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke), an ultra-competitive rival, but also manages to befriend a cute Japanese girl called Kimi (Ena Imai).

David Wenham (who worked with Connolly on Three Dollars and The Bank) is a smart addition to the cast as Patrick, Jason’s golf pro father who isn’t nearly as win-at-all-costs as his son. Meanwhile, Worthington’s grief-stricken dad lends the film just the right amount of edge to ensure it never tips towards the sickly-sweet.

While there are minor hiccups along the way, the outcome is never really in doubt, as Dylan aims to reach the World Paper Plane Championships in Tokyo – a real event that inspired Connolly and co-writer Steve Worland’s script, as did the success of Dylan Parker, the Australian bronze medallist from the 2009 competition. Still, it's hard to resent a film for hitting obvious beats (or for the rather second-rate CGI in the plane-flying scenes) when its heart is so firmly in the right place. Led by Oxenbould – who previously appeared alongside Steve Carell in 2014’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – there’s a day-dreamy quality to Paper Planes that makes it a pleasure to watch.

General release from Fri 23 Oct.

Paper Planes

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • 1h 36min
  • U
  • Directed by: Robert Connolly
  • Written by: Robert Connolly/Steve Worland
  • Cast: Ed Oxenbould, Sam Worthington, Julian Dennison

Dylan is a 12 year old in New South Wales, whose mother's death in a car accident has caused his father Jack (Worthington) to become sunk in grief and depression. Then Dylan turns out to have a talent for paper aeroplanes. Pleasant, day-dreamy kids' film based on a true story; manages to keep its heart in the right place…