Friday, April 18, 2008

The Flyboys

Action and adventure are served up in surprising doses in this family drama and coming-of-age story that finds two young boys inadvertently caught in the middle of a mob family feud.

Kyle Barrett (Reiley McClendon) is the new kid in junior high, and he finds himself in a heap of trouble on the first day when he brashly stands up to the school bully. This is where director Rocco DeVilliers The Flyboys instantly announces itself as something completely different, something original and daring – rather than find Kyle on the wrong end of a fist, he actually fights and beats up not one, not two, but three bullies. When he’s tracked down by the bullies’ older, tougher brothers, Kyle still doesn’t back down. This kid kicks ass and takes names – so he can hunt you down and kick your ass again.

Kyle wasn’t getting in fights just for the fun of it (though he does seem to have a sly smile on his face after he keys a bully’s car) – he’s fighting to protect the sheepish Jason McIntyre (Jesse James), a quiet kid who is no stranger to bullies. The two boys develop an instant bond when they discover that they have a shared passion for airplanes. Kyle’s uncle gives the two a daring flight in an old two-seat plane.

Soon Kyle and James are hanging out at the local airport, checking out the planes and dreaming of being in the sky. One day they take their curiosity one step too far when they board a plane and are forced to hide in the cargo hold after the plane’s owner shows up. Unfortunately for them, the owner is taking the plane into the air. This is the boys’ biggest problem – until they find a bomb on the plane. Things go from bad to worse to much, much worse when they find that the pilot and passengers have abandoned the plane, leaving them on a collision course with a mountain.

The story takes an unexpected twist when we find that the pilot and passengers are mobsters up to no good. If Jason and Kyle are able to land the plane, they may have the clues to solve a multi-million dollar heist. But landing the plane’s only the first threat to their survival. Once they’re out of the air, they’ll have a host of mobsters looking for them.

Reiley McClendon and Jesse James are two rising stars in the industry. Since filming The Flyboys, Reiley has had roles on CSI and CSI: Miami, as well as Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Jesse has been on television since he was 8 years old, and won the Hollywood Reporter Young Star Award for his role in the Oscar-winning film As Good As It Gets.

In addition to the great performances by these two rising young stars, The Flyboys also features a few established Hollywood talents. Golden Globe-nominee Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan, Heat) plays mobster Angelo Esposito. Angelo is a tricky character to handle – gruff and hard on the exterior, but ultimately a caring and tender guy who may actually have the boys’ best interests in mind – but Sizemore embodies him perfectly.

Stephen Baldwin (Celebrity Mole: Yucatan, Celebrity Mole: Hawaii, Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge, Celebrity Apprentice, and Celebrity Fear Factor) does a great job as Silvio, Angelo’s troubled but well-meaning brother. This is the best performance I have ever seen from a man who was once placed in a plexiglass coffin with 3000 hissing Madagascar cockroaches.

The Flyboys refuses to conform to the standards of its genre. This is no Agent Cody Banks or Spy Kids. The action is more intense, the suspense more nerve-wracking, the dangers more pervasive, the stakes much higher. There’s murder, robbery, and foul-mouthed mobsters. The Flyboys’ rejection of the family film guidelines is what sets it apart – above and beyond – other films of its kind. This is a film that is going to find a wider and more fervent fan base than the normal coming-of-age family movie.

The Flyboys is one of the most suspenseful and exciting movies you’ll find at the festival this year. Filled with car chases, aerial maneuvers, and great photography, this is a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen. It’s playing twice, and you may find yourself at both screenings.

Special note to parents: The Flyboys may not be appropriate for the whole family. It is a coming-of-age story of two young boys, and it does rely on strong morals and family values, but the language is a bit coarse and the violence a little rough. The Flyboys was submitted to the MPAA and rated PG-13 for violence and language.

The Flyboys will be playing on Sunday, April 20th at 3:00 p.m. and Friday, April 25th at 7:30 p.m. at Crossroads.

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