Sometimes it’s just a bad idea, and sometimes it gets made anyway. Seldom so true as with this one. A very young and almost unrecognizable Elijah Wood, before he grew hair on his feet, has a younger brother who Mom’s new piece of shit boyfriend is abusing. They don’t tell on him because it would make her sad. Bad mistake, but understandable. To get little bro out of the reach of the child-beater, they make an aircraft out of their little red wagon, and start it rolling down a hill …
So what can happen after that?
A) The real world: He crashes and breaks his neck.
B) The sort-of-Spielberg world they seem to be trying for: The impossible airplane actually flies, and he’s off and never comes back, to the tune of a standard uplifting music score.
So there’s the deep-rooted, intractable problem with this story. A is a horrible bummer. B is so dishonest it makes me break out in a sweat. This is not how to escape child abuse, and to suggest it is awful. You can’t put a fairy tale ending in a modern-day story like this, unless you want to bring on a genie or a fairy or an E.T. to help you out. Would that have worked? I kind of doubt it. I think this one was doomed from the start. The amazing thing is that they made it at all, because just about everybody hated it.