[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/RadioFlyer300_400_6974.gif]]

''Radio Flyer'' is a 1992 drama-fantasy film directed by Creator/RichardDonner.

An adult named Mike (Creator/TomHanks) is observing his two sons fighting; with one insisting that a promise doesn't mean anything. To make them understand that a promise does mean something, he tells them the story of his youth. Young Mike (Creator/ElijahWood), his little brother Bobby (Joseph Mazzello), their mother Mary (Creator/LorraineBracco) and their German Shepherd Shane move to a new town after their father/husband leaves them. There, Mary marries a new man (Creator/AdamBaldwin), who likes the others to call him "The King". Unbeknowst to Mary, The King is an alcoholic who often gets drunk and beats Bobby. The two boys, seeing that their mother has found happiness at last with The King, are reluctant to tell either her or the police about the abuse. They instead try to avoid The King by exploring and having adventures in amidst the local environs. In the process, the two concoct a plan for Bobby to escape The King once and for all. Inspired by the urban legend of a boy named Fisher who attempted to fly away on his bicycle, the two convert their epononymous Radio Flyer toy wagon into an airplane. [[spoiler:With it, Bobby flies away. Though Mike never sees him again, he continues to receive postcards from him from places all over the world.]]

Very much may your mileage vary in regards to this film. On one hand, you may find it a [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming heartwarming]] [[{{Tearjerker}} tearjerker]]. On the other hand, however, you may find it (and indeed, at the time of its release, many such as Creator/RogerEbert and Leonard Maltin found it) [[Main/{{Glurge}} a bit immoral]] for suggesting that all a child needs to do to escape abuse is construct a rickety little toy airplane out of a red wagon and stuff from a junkyard -- which obviously is impossible in real life. Because of the nebulous conclusion, a few people have concocted theories regarding that Bobby [[spoiler:doesn't actually fly away at the end]]. One such theory is that Mike was the actual recipent of the abuse and that Bobby was just a psychological projection, ala ''Film/FightClub'', whom he used to disassociate himself from it, and that [[spoiler: he "flew away" once The King was arrested because Mike no longer had any need of him]]. Another theory is that Bobby [[spoiler: actually perished, and that Mike repressed this memory and constructed a false but bearable one]]. However, [[WordOfGod director Richard Donner has denied all these theories]].
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!!This film provides examples of:

* [[AbusiveParents Abusive Parent]]
* AdultsAreUseless: Played straight with the mother; she seems oblivious about The King's abuse of her children, and once she realizes what has happened, she reconciles with The King anyway. However, the sheriff knows something is amiss, and in two of his three appearances intervenes on the brothers' behalf. Also, the kids ''are'' actively trying to conceal the abuse.
* TheAlcoholic: The King.
* AnAesop: About keeping promises, no matter what. Although YMMV as to how family-friendly this is, given the context.
* ArcSymbol: Airplanes and various other flying craft.
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: When The King reads Mikey's note, he is angry as he told them to stay off the hill, completely missing the ominous message which could easily lead an outsider to think Bobby intended to kill himself.
* DisappearedDad: The boys' real father.
* DistantPrologue: The Fisher story.
* DisturbedDoves: A flock of these takes off when The King gives Bobby the NoHoldsBarredBeatdown that leads to his arrest.
* DreamSequence: The dream of the buffalo.
* EasilyForgiven: Mary does this to The King. Sadly, can be TruthInTelevision.
* TheFaceless: The King. Believed to be because Adam Baldwin didn't want his face associated with child abuse, but could also be the director's way of portraying The King as an almost mythic figure.
* FramingDevice: Adult Mike is telling his kids the story of his childhood.
* FriendOrIdolDecision: Subverted. At one point, Mikey has a choice: to stay with Bobby or to play football with Victor and his gang. Given that he wants to fit in, he goes with the gang, leaving his brother to his own devices. The result is that the football game is actually an ambush, which Mikey ends up overcoming, only to come home and find that his brother was put in the hospital by The King. He realizes he should have stayed with Bobby.
* GoryDiscretionShot: Twice: during onstage abuse of Bobby, the camera cuts away -- to Mikey the first time, and to a flock of DisturbedDoves the second.
* GroinAttack: Mikey gives one to Victor, winning the fight.
* GrowingUpSucks: At age 13, one loses the "seven great abilities".
* HarmfulToMinors: Bobby's abuse by The King...and what he does to escape it.
* ICallItVera: Old Trusty, the cord The King uses to beat Bobby.
* IGaveMyWord: An important theme in the story -- mainly, the reason Mikey doesn't tell anyone about the abuse.
* ItWasAGift: The eponymous wagon.
* KickTheDog: / TheDogBitesBack: Two examples of the former side by side. One is literal as The King abuses Shane when Bobby and Mike aren't around. The other is when he starts hurting Mike while he tries to start the plane. [[spoiler: [[BigDamnHeroes Shane]] [[LaserGuidedKarma bit]] back ]] during the second kicking.
* {{Jossed}}: WordOfGod denies the presence of AlternativeCharacterInterpretation or an UnreliableNarrator.
* JustPlaneWrong: No way could the souped-up Radio Flyer fly in real life. (In his review, Creator/RogerEbert saw the whole business as a case of MortonsFork -- it would be horrible to see it fail and kill the kid, but worse for it to succeed because it would suggest to ''real'' kids that they could use fantastic devices to escape their problems.)
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Quoted nearly word for word by Fisher's friends during the prologue.
* NeverSayDie: The "Is he...?" variant is used with Fisher.
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: The King gives one of these to Bobby as Victor's gang is giving one of these to Mikey.
* KickTheDog: The King almost kills Shane at one point.
* LoveMakesYouDumb: Or at least, very gullible. Mary is quick to swallow The King's very transparent lies and empty promises.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: The King. You have to pay careful attention to realize his name is Jack [=MacKenzie=].
* PinkySwear
* PlotParallel: The beatings of Mikey and Bobby, by Victor's gang and The King, respectively.
* ProductPlacement: Naturally; Radio Flyer is a brand name of a real life little red wagon.
* RubeGoldbergDevice: Regardless of what [[http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9E0CEEDF1E3EF932A15751C0A964958260 some reviewers]] said, this trope is actually inverted. Despite the work the boys put into fixing up the Radio Flyer, it is ''under''-engineered, as far as actual flight is concerned.
* RuleOfCool: The only way the plot to escape The King is able to work.
* RuleOfSeven: The seven great abilities and fascinations of childhood.
* SirSwearsALot: The King.
* SmugSnake: The King, after the boys discover what he did to Shane.
* SpiritAdvisor: The buffalo plays this role, sort of, to Mikey.
* {{Tearjerker}}: So, so many. The beatings, Shane's death [[spoiler:until it's revealed he's alive]], and Bobby's departure.
* TitleDrop: Of course.
* UnreliableNarrator: The adult Mike may well be this. Indeed, at the end he says to his own sons: "''Now do you understand what I mean about history being in the mind of the teller?''"
* WagTheDirector: Possibly. One explanation for The King being TheFaceless is that Baldwin refused to have his face associated with child abuse.
* WhenItAllBegan: The Fisher story.
* [[WickedStepmother Wicked Stepfather]]
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