Fly Away Home (1996)

Rating: U
Length: 1h 47
Release: 7.2.1997
Dir: Carroll Ballard
About: Amy moves to Ontario to live with her father after the death of her mother. Her father, an aviation expert, helps Amy lead a flock of orphaned geese south for the winters.

First Thoughts

This was one of those rare films I got to see in the cinema growing up. A cinema outing was primarily just for my birthday until this point. However, 1996 marked a change. Labour came into power here in the UK and both my parents became almost immediately employed. This meant there was a little more disposable income and my mum added in this spring half-term trip to the cinema.
This also became the first film I ever bought myself on VHS, having been bought Jurassic Park by a family friend and a number of Disney VHS from my Gran for Christmas. It was a hard decision; Fly Away Home or The Santa Clause (the Tim Allen one). I’d loved both films so much I’d even read the books. I think it was the all-year-round appeal that saw Fly Away Home win out. However, that was perhaps mum’s logic than my own; I was the girl who would watch Santa Claus: The Movie all year round. Perhaps mum didn’t want a repeat.
It’s also thanks to this film (and Jurassic Park) that I really wanted to see the Piano. Anna Paquin was someone I felt was ‘like me’. So I wanted to see everything she was in. The VHS was set up to record. I was very disappointed when I came down the next day to be informed that mum had stopped it and that it was not a film I should watch. Safe to say, I’ve still not watched it to this day and from that point, I was a little more reserved in watching her films.

The Good

  • It’s a story about adorable animals and their relationship with a kid that ‘could be you’. What is not to love about that? Oh and they go on this great adventure with a parent, when you (as kid) totally know your parents would NEVER be that cool.
  • While it opens on a sad note, this film actually is uplifting and what I would call a ‘cathartic’ tearjerker. The viewer gets to see Amy express and embrace her grief.
  • While there’s no attempt to give each and every one of the geese a distinct personality, you don’t have a heart if you don’t immediately love Igor. His narrative gives you all the feels and there are some giggles to be had when he tries to keep up with his siblings.
  • As always, Jeff Daniels gives a brilliant performance. These are the sort of roles he’s made to do and can balance the eccentric and paternal really well.

The Bad

  • Anna Paquin screams way too much in this movie. That high pitch just really starts to grate after the millionth time. As a kid I don’t remember this being something that bothered me, but this time it was a massive irritation.
  • It does feel a little slow in parts with it trying to introduce us to all of the characters without being overwhelmed.

The Ugly

  • It is based upon a true story and as I said before there is a book out there. However, the book is a novelisation of the film so I think my point going forward is fair. The wildlife guy who comes to the house to clip the wings and proceeds to play the antagonist just doesn’t sit quite right. It feels as if he’s given this persona just to have something to fight against and make the film more dramatic.
  • THAT SONG! If the song that opens the film doesn’t make you ugly cry, either at the start or at it’s reprisal, you need to warm up that cold cold heart of yours.

Final Thoughts

It’s such a heartwarming film and I really am surprised I’ve not watched it more.

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