Paper Planes

Paper Planes

(G) Starring Ben Oxenbould, Sam Worthington, Peter Rowsthorn

Family movies with underlying messages aimed at children can often be hard to pull off, without boring the older audiences. Paper Planes however, is a truly humble and heart-warming story of mateship, family and childhood fun; and it is far from a bore. It is a whole new realm for director Peter Connolly, whose usual dramatic films are a far cry from a classic uplifting family movie. With a classic Australian cast, Peter manages to underscore drama with humour, whilst telling an important tale about family and childhood innocence.

Dylan (Ed Oxenbould) is an 11 year old boy living in country New South Wales. After winning a class paper plan making competition, he realises his abilities can be put to good use. Dylan begins to put his skills to the test, as he becomes a scientist, artist and athlete in order to finally make it through to the finals in Tokyo, Japan. Along the way, Dylan is faced with many challenges that tell a deeper message. His father Jack (Sam Worthington) suffers from depression since Dylan’s mother passes away five months before, leaving Dylan to fend for himself in and outside the home.


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Throughout the film, protagonist Dylan displays maturity beyond his years. Despite the ‘adult’ situations he is faced with, he still remains a grounded 11-year-old child. Dylan manages to dodge his fathers constant mood swings, fends off schoolyard bullies, and continues to move forward from his mother’s death – dealing with the grief better than most 20 year olds, let alone a pre-pubescent boy. Through this, Connolly manages to link the adult and childhood worlds together, creating a humbling story that is more believable and relatable than most family films.

Despite Jack’s downfalls as a father, he is not so crushed by grief that he cannot redeem himself. His depression is an aspect of Dylan’s life, but not centre stage. It doesn’t become cliché or mopey like some family movies can sometimes stray into. Instead, the distance between Dylan and his father gives hope for the future, as they begin to find each other again through the paper plan competition.

Paper Planes features many classic characters – kooky teacher (Peter Rowsthorn), plump off-sider (Julian Dennison), rich mean bully (Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke), bizarre grand-father (Terry Norris) and effervescent love interest (Ena Imai) – which all serve the purpose to offer obstacles and strategies for the loveable main character Dylan to overcome. The overall message of resilience is far from overpowering, and instead is a happy realisation amoung the representation of Australian mateship and humour.

Looking deeper at the themes of the film

  • What does the Bible say about hope for the future? Genesis 8:1
  • Winning isn’t everything, so what does the Bible say? Ecclesiastes 9:11
  • What can the Bible tell us about family values? Deuteronomy 5:16

Toya Gattas


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