* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: Because of the nebulous conclusion, a few people have concocted theories regarding that Bobby doesn't actually fly away at the end. One such theory is that Mike was the actual recipient of the abuse and that Bobby was just a psychological projection, ala ''Film/FightClub'', whom he used to disassociate himself from it, and that he "flew away" once The King was arrested because Mike no longer had any need of him. Another theory is that Bobby 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]].
* AudienceAlienatingPremise: Big time and the main reason the film was a major BoxOfficeBomb. Most kids won't want to watch a depressing movie that centers around child abuse, and most adults will be turned off by the ridiculous Family-Unfriendly Aesop of how it's OK not to tell anyone about an abuser if that person makes someone else happy.
* FamilyUnfriendlyAesop: Many feel this. Firstly, Mikey helps cover up The King's abuse of his brother, because of his promise and to keep their mother happy (which the movie implicitly endorses). Secondly, the idea that kids can expect fantastical solutions to real-life problems like abuse.
%%* {{Glurge}}
* MoralEventHorizon: The King crosses this once he begins abusing Bobby.
* {{Narm}}: Some critics thought that The King being TheFaceless, having such a ridiculous nickname (for an adult), and having a cord named Old Trusty that he uses to beat Bobby, is this, portraying such a serious issue as child abuse in mythic terms.
** FridgeBrilliance kicks in, however, when one realizes that the story is told from a child's point of view, and children do tend to see the world around them in mythic terms. Except Richard Donner shot that down, leaving one to wonder what exactly he was thinking.
* WhyWouldAnyoneTakeHimBack: Sadly played straight here. Except ''no one'' is rooting for them to reconcile.