The Flyboys (2008)
The Flyboys (2008)

Genre: Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.

Release Date: August 15th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Rocco DeVilliers Actors: Jesse James, Reiley McClendon, Stephen Baldwin, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Slimko, Robert Costanzo, Vince Cecere, Blaire Baron, J. Todd Adams




ith a creative story that lends itself to plenty of mischief and awesomely unfathomable action, “The Flyboys” breaks away from all the rules governing kids’ movies to become a boldly original adventure that proves the genre doesn’t have to play it safe. Exceptional performances from the two young leads (a rarity for such projects) and engaging supporting turns by Tom Sizemore and Stephen Baldwin are further paired with delirious amounts of cinematic escapism. The result is a wholly satisfying, high-flying experience that transcends “The Flyboys’” status as a mere festival film.

When the new kid in town, Kyle (Reiley McClendon), saves Jason (Jesse James) from a group of school bullies, an unlikely friendship forms. The two end up spending a good portion of their time at an airplane hangar maintained by Jason’s Uncle Ed (Dallen Gettling), where thoughts of taking to the skies provide worthwhile fantasies. And before they know it, they end up on the ride of their lives (and a ride for their lives) when they unintentionally ruin the scheme of dangerous mob misfit Silvio Esposito (Stephen Baldwin).

What begins as a very typical new-kid-in-school premise drastically changes when viewers discover that said new kid Kyle is a total badass. Standing up for regularly strong-armed, loner Jason – both in school and after class – Kyle rescues his new friend from multiple antagonists, before proceeding to beat up the older brothers of the attackers. A dizzying car chase and daring stunts follow, marking “The Flyboys” as anything but the average family film. The most enjoyable elements are derived from multiple resolutions between characters and events that end exactly the way audiences hope they will, which is something rarely illustrated in juvenile dramas. A plethora of movies utilize the same formula of witnessing the protagonist meet adversity at the start, only to come back at the conclusion for the ultimate victory. But here, viewers are treated to the heroes winning and then winning some more, with this level of unpredictable gratification remaining thoroughly refreshing throughout.

Harrowing car chases, aerial stunts, crash landings, and more abound in “The Flyboys,” with each scene of action attempting to outdo the previous one – eventually relinquishing all concern with realism. But in its wholehearted embracing of fun, it’s easy enough to appreciate the nonstop, over-the-top mayhem for what it is, especially when generous bouts of surprisingly dark comedy break up the hubbub. It’s almost like a James Bond episode for kids, devoting attention to action first and harsh truths and morals second. Nonetheless, the aspects of friendship and courage are just as winning, allowing writer/director Rocco DeVilliers’ rousting thrill ride to reveal amusingly brazen characters that seldom inhabit productions aimed at preteens.

– Joel Massie

  • 8/10