‘Storm Boy’ Flies High

by Christian Ramos on April 5, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

Family friendly films too often are bogged down by cheap sentiment that make stories near unbearable to watch and stomach. At their best, they teach life lessons about growing up with all the pain and heartache that may come along with it.

A remake from a story from Australia, Storm Boy from director Shawn Seet, is an example of how to do a family film right. It has everything: growing up, the bond between man and animal and reflecting on the past to influence the future. It was so poignantly well executed in fact, that I cried.

Mike Kingley (Geoffrey Rush) is a retired businessman who one day starts to reflect on the memories of his childhood growing up on an isolated coastline with his father Hideaway Tom (Jai Courtney). Mike begins to recount his narrative to his granddaughter Madeline (Morgana Davies) and how when he was a boy, he rescued three orphan pelican chicks. On this coastline, young Mike, then known as Storm Boy (Finn Little) with the help of a new aborigine friend Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson), raise the chicks to the point they can fly away to live their lives in nature.

One pelican however, Mr. Percival forms an instant bond with Storm Boy. When father and son think all the pelicans are flying free, Mr. Percival returns with the intentions to stay with his family. The boy and bird play together and learn together on their small patch of land. When a storm threatens the life of Tom, Mr. Percival is there to literally swoop in and save the day, making the nearby townsfolk in awe over the bird. As older Mike reflects with his granddaughter, he invites her to the now abandoned beach that was once his home and continues to hold the memories of his youth with Mr. Percival.

In all fairness, the cheap sentiment stuff I talked about earlier? It works here. I found myself getting into a rollercoaster of emotions over Mr. Percival and the moments when his life are put in danger. This is a wonderful little story about growing up that teaches how precious life is. It isn’t only Storm Boy that understands that, but his father too, who has already lost a wife and daughter before.

The film is wonderfully made, having a nice pace to it from present to past and never really going overboard with the scenes of older Mike. The real complaint is it takes a little bit to get into it. There’s an understanding this is a choice because you have to frame the narrative of older Mike to get to what he was as Storm Boy, but it could have come along much quicker.

Storm Boy is a wonderfully made film for all ages. It teaches the values of life and friendship, from a story many in Australia know and grow up with. There’s a sense of pride in young Storm Boy that he can raise a pelican chick to become his best friend, and it brings a smile to the viewers watching recognizing the power of friendship.

Christian Ramos is a classic film fan, having had the dream to host Turner Classic Movies for years now. He also has a large amount of Oscar trivia in his head, remembers dressing as Groucho Marx one Halloween, and cherishes the moment Julianne Moore liked his tweet.


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