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Movie review: Fly Away Home

February 8, 2011

Bitten: A new weekly feature that critiques your favorite animal flicks, by our sassy canine movie critic, Walter. Scheduled to appear every Tuesday.

Fly Away Home

Aww! Just another tale about a girl and her flock of geese.

The last time I saw Fly Away Home, I was a wee little pup. What better time to reacquaint myself with a film that had such a marvelous impact on my puppyhood. Just as I remember, it’s still quite the tearjerker. A young Anna Paquin stars as Amy, a 13-year-old who moves in with her eccentric inventor dad (Jeff Bridges) after her mom — and his ex-wife — is killed in a terrible car accident. That harrowing scene is depicted early on in the movie, and involves heavy rain, a bridge, and a giant trailer truck.

Anyway, since this movie is about geese flying home, let’s move on. So Amy leaves New Zealand (!) to live with her dad in a house that is literally located in the middle of the Canadian wilderness … quite an exciting place to raise a teenager! Apparently this unemployed “dad’s” parenting skills are a little rusty, as evidenced by the fact that he a) can’t cook and b) nearly gets himself killed in a flying accident mere hours after bringing his only child home to live with him. Didn’t this little girl JUST LOSE HER MOM 10 minutes ago?! FATHER OF THE YEAR.

Fortunately, this 40-something man’s obsession with flying comes in handy as the film progresses. However, for the first third of the movie, he mostly spends his time building dinosaur models, hanging out with his kooky brother / flying buddy, and shouting at developers to “get off his land.” What? I can’t believe Amy’s mother ever divorced him!

OK, after what feels like weeks of straight-up child neglect, Amy finds a nest of geese eggs, clearly left behind by a mother goose. For those who can’t see the parallel between this orphaned girl — at this point, she might as well be living in that Canadian farmhouse alone — and these orphaned eggs, welcome to your first movie.

Anyway, she decides to raise them, and it’s later found out that because she was the first thing these baby geese saw when they hatched, they think SHE’S their mom. So cute! Coincidentally, it’s around this time that her father decides to wake up and become Dad. Through a nifty bit of exposition on the part of the town sheriff / resident Geese Expert, we learn that the chicks are going to eventually want to fly South for the winter, whether the humans like it or not. So in turn, Dad wants to help his daughter out by using his seemingly immature and selfish love of flying with the desire to get these geese to the American South by fall.

Let’s do this!

He enlists the help of his brother, another dude, and his girlfriend (Dana Delaney) to HATCH  (hehe, get it?) a foolproof plan. He teaches Amy how to fly! Because he knows her geese will follow her anywhere! They decide to build two makeshift aircrafts, one for daughter, one for dad, and map out a route of 500 miles to a nature reserve somewhere in North Carolina, USA. Additionally, there’s a not-so-subtle politically-charged undercurrent to this film that depicts a war between environmentalists and business developers. It’s a very similar predicament that Pocahontas faced when all the white settlers arrived in America. I guess some people will never truly understand the joys of painting with the colors of the wind. Sigh.

Along the way, this father-daughter ragtag team must fight against that annoying town sheriff, who’s apparently the movie’s villain since he develops this weird, unexplained obsession with a 13-year-old girl’s pet geese. Also, by the time the Media catches wind of the Incredible Human Interest Story that emerges, they can’t get enough of Amy and her Dad and the geese. I won’t spoil the ending here, but if you think their respective planes crash into a fiery pit of doom and the geese get lost and end up in the North Pole, you’re totally off base.

Walter the move critic Dog

Let us know which movie Walter should critique next!

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