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Film: Fly Away Home

C'mon, Geese!

Fly Away Home is a 1996 family film Very Loosely Based on a True Story, directed by Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion) and starring Anna Paquin, Jeff Daniels and Dana Delany.

After her mother dies in a car accident, Amy Alden (Paquin), a 13 year old girl, moves from New Zealand to Ontario to live with her father, Thomas Alden (Daniels), an eccentric inventor whom she barely remembers (her parents split up when she was young). Amy doesn't like the lonely surroundings, she doesn't know what to make of her father, and she misses home and her mother. Then one day, after a bulldozer has knocked down a tree on some property near their house (which Thomas is upset about), Amy discovers a nest of abandoned eggs on the ground. She takes the eggs to Thomas' barn, and they hatch into baby geese. Because of the process of "imprinting", the geese think Amy is their mother, and she takes care of them as a mother would. However, soon it will be time to migrate south, so Thomas, an amateur pilot, builds small planes for himself and Amy so they can get the geese to fly and then be able to fly south for the winter. Along with the problems of flying, and getting the geese to fly, Thomas and Amy also have to deal with Glenn (Jeremy Ratchford), a park ranger who initially tries to pinion the geese to render them flightless (Amy doesn't respond well to this), and then wants to confiscate them when they start flying. Not only that, but Amy and Thomas' intended destination for the geese (a bird sanctuary in South Carolina) becomes a battleground between environmentalists and developers.

Though more than a few reviewers commented on the timing of the film (it was delayed after Jessica Dubroff, a seven year old girl, was killed when she was at the controls of a small plane during a transcontinental flight, along with her father and flying instructor), the film was generally well-received and is considered one of the better and more underrated family films of the time.


This film contains examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Amy's memorable response to Glenn trying to pinion the baby geese is to hit him over the head with a bowl of popcorn.
  • Big "Shut Up!": Susan does a memorable example of this trope to get the bulldozers to stop.
  • A Girl And Her Geese
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Thomas is more than a little eccentric (as is his brother David), but they're both talented, and serious, scientists.
  • California Doubling: Mostly averted; even the short scenes taking place in New Zealand and the (U.S.) Niagara Falls military base were shot on location. North Carolina is used to double for South Carolina, however.
  • Canada, Eh?: Averted; though there are a couple of broad Canadian accents, the movie generally avoids the stereotypes associated with this trope.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For Amy.
  • Cool Old Lady: The elderly woman with the hunter rifle.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Amy has her moments
  • Disappeared Dad: Why Amy doesn't really get along with Thomas at first.
    • Although it is implied by the dialogue that Amy and her mom left him (presumably because he was more focused on his art projects than them)
  • Downer Beginning: The car crash that killed Amy's mom (and injured Amy) happens during the opening credits.
  • Gonna Need More Trope: After Thomas' first attempt at flying fails, David and Barry's first reaction is, "We need a bigger engine".
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: You can tell this is a PG-rated family film because both adults and kids react to seeing Amy and the geese flying by saying, "Oh my gosh!" Though there is one memorable exception; see Precision F-Strike below.
  • Idiot Ball: Thomas forgot batteries to the navigational system. As a result, they weren't some miles west of Baltimore, they were in Baltimore. Cue dodging buildings.
  • Mama Goose: (hee hee!) Amy, of course; especially after Igor gets his wing clipped.
  • Improbable Weapon: A popcorn bowl, funnily enough.
  • Naked First Impression: Thomas' friend Barry gets more than he bargained for when Thomas breaks down the bathroom door to find Amy screaming and just out of the shower.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Stated in the credits.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Dana Delany as Susan.
  • Precision F-Strike: Unlike everyone else in the film, a hunter's reaction to Amy and the geese flying over him is, "Holy shit!"
  • Pretty Boy: Barry.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby geese are positively adorable.
  • Race Against the Clock: The geese need to get to the bird sanctuary by November 1st, or it reverts over to developers.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Air Force base commander. He's rightfully pissed off at Amy and Thomas landing illegally at the base (and nearly getting themselves shot), but accepts their apology.
    Commander: "Well if you're 'very' sorry."
  • The Runt at the End: Igor, a goose with a limp which makes him run slower than the others, and who consequently can't fly as well.
  • Saving The Bird Sanctuary: A bird sanctuary is threatened with demolition unless there are birds in it by November 1st.
  • Scenery Porn: Good grief, there are several stunning shots that make the audience want to pack up and head to Canada.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Barry models a lot of sleeveless shirts throughout the movie.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Glenn, the park ranger who tries to pinion the geese

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