I don’t think I’m overstating things to say that Australian film can be a bit on the nose. It’s certainly not the first choice for most cinema goers and because of this a lot of films don’t do well at the box office. So that’s why I’d like to give a shout-out to two Aussie films I’ve watched lately that I really enjoyed. Of course, they’re in the kids/family genre and they are Paper Planes and Oddball.
Both films take on grief as a theme. They both feature a dead mother and the impact of her death is continuing to impact on the characters at the start of each film.
What I loved, is that even though the film makers weren’t afraid to take on heavy issues, there was still a lot of humour and grace.
Paper Planes – which had the wonderful premise of a boy in a small rural community taking part in an international paper plane flying competition – had me a bit of an emotional wreck. Basically, 11-year-old Dylan’s Mum’s died in a car crash and his Dad is stuck in a pit of despair. Dylan tries to keep things together but has to cope with the ongoing disappointment of his Dad not really being involved in his life. This is not to say that the film is too heavy and there are some delightful paper plane making and flying scenes. My 11-year-old daughter who had to be bullied into watching this on DVD really enjoyed it. She was inspired to make paper planes for a few days afterwards. There’s lots of cool detail on how to make paper planes here.
One of the best things about watching Australian films is it really brings home the beauty of our landscape. Oddball was set in Warrnambool on Victoria’s south-west coast and includes gorgeous footage of the Twelve Apostles. This really appealed to my love of quirky animal stories and better still it was based on a true story. It is about a farmer who uses his Maremma dog to save a colony of penguins on Middle Island that are being slaughtered by foxes. There were some great funny moments in this film – usually featuring the accident prone dog Oddball. But what I loved most was the heart. It was about keeping family together and standing up for what you think is right.
So all in all, two great feel-good movies for the whole family.