The Boy Who Could Fly is a 1986 film directed and written by Nick Castle.
Amelia "Milly" Michaelson and her family has had a tough year. The father of the family had passed away, causing them to move to a new neighborhood. Milly and her brother Louis have a rough time adjusting to their new schools and their mother's return to the workforce has her working with a computer that she can't figure out.
Milly soon meets her neighbor Eric, an autistic young man living with an alcoholic uncle named Hugo. He never socializes with others, hasn't spoken at all, and sometimes raises his arms in the air to pretend to be an airplane, since his parents died in a plane crash. As soon as the two meet, Eric and Milly warm up to each other and become fast friends. However, with Hugo's alcoholism and Eric's strange behavior, Eric could be taken away to a hospital at any moment. Furthermore, a couple of strange incidents makes Milly start to believe that Eric might really have the ability to fly...
This film has examples of:
- Alcoholic Parent: Uncle Hugo is Eric's guardian, but he constantly drinks and this has caused him to lose guardianship over Eric a couple of times.
- Big Damn Heroes: Louis's dog, Max, chasing off one of the neighborhood bullies dog is one of the most triumphant examples of this trope.
- Bittersweet Ending: Eric flies away and disappears, and Milly stays while living her life and waiting for his return. (In the meantime Louis stands up to his bullies, Milly's mom adapts herself to work, and Uncle Hugo stops drinking). But the last scene all but states that Eric comes back to her.
- Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: In a, uh, way...
- Disability Superpower: Eric REALLY can fly...
- Disabled Love Interest: Eric, for Milly
- Don't Try This at Home: A disclaimer stressing this was shown before its airings on the Disney Channel.
- Driven to Suicide: It's revealed that Milly and Louis's father did not die from cancer, but killed himself shortly after the diagnosis.
- '80s Hair: All over the place, but Milly especially.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Flight: Played with as to whether Eric can fly or not. He can.
- Hollywood Autism: Eric, starting with the obvious fact that it somehow gave him superpowers.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Eric is autistic but in many ways the Manic Pixie Dream Girl to Milly and, oh yeah, that flying thing isn't some derangement but an actual superpower that triggers eventually.
- Meaningful Name: Milly's real name is Amelia. In a movie about flight. On top of this, Milly was also Nick Castle's mother's name.
- Nightmare Fuel: Believe it or not, there is a definite dash of Mood Whiplash. Milly suffers a concussion after trying to pick a rose for Eric while standing on a bridge during a field trip. In the hospital, she has a dream sequence where Eric takes her flying, out towards the clouds, dodging a shooting star, all very romantic. Milly then floats back into her room... where she finds the sheet being pulled over the head of her father's corpse by an Alpha Bitch seen earlier in the film badmouthing Eric. She then produces a dodgeball and sends Milly back down to Earth. If you weren't expecting it, it will terrify you.
- The Noun Who Verbed: The title.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Eric & Milly's sad-puppy faces would be right at home in an ASPCA advert.
- Retroactive Recognition: Louis is played by Fred Savage, a year before The Princess Bride and two years before The Wonder Years. Milly's friend Geneva is played by Mindy Cohn.
- Spoiler Title: Take a wild guess what the "amazing secret" in the tagline is.
- Stock Shoujo Bullying Tactics: Eric is ignored at school, Louis is attacked by local boys.
- Suicidal "Gotcha!": Sort-of. When Eric and Milly find themselves cornered at a rooftop by the mental hospital people, they jump off together... and then they start actually flying.
- They Would Cut You Up: After Eric disappears, Milly and Uncle Hugo and their families are all taken by the government and experimented on for a while to see if there's something in them that can say how Eric got his flying powers. Aside from an extended period of annoyance until they're let go, nothing bad comes from it.
- Urine Trouble: Louis defeats the neighborhood bully with a squirt gun full of piss.
- The Voiceless: Due to his refusal to socialize with others, Eric never speaks. The first actual words he says are his Love Confession to Milly.