Take 3: The Boy Who Could Fly Review (PB & J Double Feature Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my PB & J Double Feature! This review may contain spoilers and here are the links to the double feature’s introduction and the first part:

My PB & J Double Feature’s Introduction

Take 3: The Last Full Measure Review (PB & J Double Feature Part 1)

The Boy Who Could Fly poster created by Lorimar Motion Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090768/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0.

1. What is the purpose of Girl Scout fun patches? What is the significance of the PB & J patch that you talked about in the introduction?

I already explained this in my review for The Last Full Measure, so you can read that post if you want to learn more about Girl Scout fun patches and the PB & J patch.

2. How did you come across The Boy Who Could Fly?

I came across the poster for The Boy Who Could Fly while visiting Pinterest. After making this discovery, I read the film’s synopsis. I was curious to see how the subject of Autism would be discussed in a movie set in and released during the ‘80s. The possible meaning behind the title is also what sparked my interest.

3. You elaborated in the introduction how a PB & J sandwich represents a collection of ideas. Can any of these ideas be found in The Boy Who Could Fly?

One of these ideas that can be found in The Boy Who Could Fly relates to building connections. In this film, the audience learns that Mrs. Sherman, Milly and Eric’s teacher, has become one of Eric’s biggest advocates. It was her decision to place him in her class so he can interact with the other students. She also reveals to Milly that she protested against sending Eric to an institution so he could live in an environment that was familiar to him. Because of Mrs. Sherman’s encouragement and after she volunteered to be his gym class partner, Milly chooses to stay by Eric’s side and be his friend. Even when she experiences frustration and considers throwing in the towel, Milly perseveres in helping Eric be the best version of himself that he can be. It’s because of these connections that Eric is able to grow as a person and inspire the people around him.

As I mentioned in answer number one, the PB & J patch is earned by making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This activity is usually performed when feeding people in need. Volunteers who choose to serve others in this fashion build connections with other volunteers, as well as with the organizers of this activity. These connections help build a community of life-minded individuals who share a common goal. They may even form connections with the people they are serving.

4. Are there other patches you can think of that would complement The Boy Who Could Fly?

A patch related to Autism seems like an appropriate choice. It could be earned in a variety of ways, from participating in an Autism Walk to meeting members of a local Autism council. One of the major themes in The Boy Who Could Fly is believing in yourself. There is one patch from Mad About Fun Patches that would perfectly fit with this theme. On the website, there is a Dumbo themed patch that says “Believe You Can Fly & Soar”. In The Boy Who Could Fly, Milly reads a Dumbo picture book to Eric. She does this to help Eric communicate and connect with others by using a topic he loves: flight.

5. Is there anything about The Boy Who Could Fly that you liked or didn’t like?

I was surprised by how well this movie aged, especially when it comes to the subject of Autism. While there is language in the film that wouldn’t be used today, the way Eric is treated and viewed by the other characters is positive. A great example is the formation of Milly and Eric’s friendship. The movie presents the possibility of people with Autism successfully creating and maintaining meaningful relationships. This helps dispel stereotypes that could leave a negative impact for those on the Spectrum. While watching The Boy Who Could Fly, I noticed how the audio of the actors was on the quieter side. I had to turn up the volume on my television just to hear what the characters were saying.

Paper airplane image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/paper-plane-in-cartoon-style_766478.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/paper”>Paper vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

6. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?

A thought I developed during my viewing of The Boy Who Could Fly is how some moments felt ahead of their time. In answer number four, I mentioned how Milly uses Eric’s favorite subject to help him communicate and connect with other people. I read a story several years ago about a woman whose autistic son loved bees, so she based his entire homeschool curricular around that subject. She did this in order to help him enjoy his lessons. The idea of helping someone with Autism based on their personal preferences and accommodations is a practice commonly known today than it might have been in the mid to late ‘80s. After suffering a minor concussion and experiencing a life-like dream, Milly has a conversation with a psychologist from the hospital. The interaction itself normalizes the use of therapy, with the psychologist hearing Milly’s side of the story without any judgement or criticism. Seeking therapy for those with mental health related situations is encouraged and accepted today that it could have been four decades ago.

7. As stated in answer number one, fun patches are earned by either completing an activity or reaching a goal. What goal or activity could correlate with this movie?

Similar to The Last Full Measure, most scouts would not be able to see The Boy Who Could Fly. This is due to language and a scene involving minors consuming alcohol. But, like The Last Full Measure, troops can participate in activities that relate to the movie. As I mentioned in answer number four, a Dumbo themed patch would correlate perfectly with The Boy Who Could Fly. Younger scouts can watch Dumbo and discuss the importance of self-esteem. Meanwhile, older scouts can learn about different forms of flight and discovering how their unique talents can play a vital role in their community.

8. Fun patches are about learning new skills or lessons. Are there any lessons one can learn from this film?

Like I said in answer number four, a major theme in The Boy Who Could Fly is believing in yourself. There are several occasions where characters are facing difficult situations in their lives. Instead of giving up, they persevere and discover a resolution to their conflict. In scouting, troops can face many obstacles. It could be as simple as last-minute changes to pre-set plans. Challenges may be bigger, causing troop leaders to search for an answer in a longer period of time. Despite this happening, it’s important for troop members to learn how to believe in themselves, especially since this lesson is a valuable one in preparation for the real world.

9. Sometimes, patches are created to tie in with a popular movie or IP (intellectual property). If given the opportunity to create a new patch, how would a patch for this movie look? What activity or goal would need to be met?

Because Eric likes creating paper planes, a patch that looks like a paper plane would definitely be a good choice. Maybe a quote from the movie could be featured on the patch. As for the activity, it would have something to do with flight. Making paper planes is a good place to start. Inviting a pilot to a meeting or talking about air travel are also good suggestions.

10. After watching this film, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

The Boy Who Could Fly is, so far, the best movie I’ve seen this year! The messages and themes within this story are just as relevant today as they were back in the ‘80s. While I wasn’t expecting Eric to literally fly, it was a creative choice that worked in this narrative. The movie was an emotional rollercoaster and I was invested from start to finish. I’m grateful to have stumbled across this film on Pinterest.

Image of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches created by Katinka Kober at freeimages.com. Photo by Katinka Kober from FreeImages

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

31 Spooks of October Update: I Finished California Angel

I was going to publish my second review for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Blogathon today. But since I finished the first book for 31 Spooks of October/Spookathon and Sbooktober yesterday, I decided to post my movie review tomorrow. If you read my article called “I’m partaking in 31 Spooks of October!”, you would know that the first book I chose to read was California Angel. When I published this particular post, I was half-way through the book. Now that I’ve completed the novel, I not only met the four challenges that were associated with California Angel, but I will also share my thoughts on it.

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One book read, four more to go! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
When I read the acknowledgements section that was featured in my copy of the book, the way Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, California Angel’s author, talked about the story made it sound like Touched by an Angel meets a typical Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie. Since those are programs that I like, I thought that I would thoroughly enjoy this book. Sadly, I was mistaken. California Angel ended up becoming the worst book I’ve ever read. Why, you ask? Well here are a list of reasons why I didn’t like this book:

  • I found the majority of the female characters to be unlikeable. For this post, I’m going to be talking about just two of them. Toy Johnson is one of the worst protagonists I’ve ever read about in literature. She was self-centered, entitled, hypocritical, judgmental, close-minded, and ungrateful. What makes things worse is she used the ideas of selflessness, charity, and even faith as an excuse for her behavior. Let me share a passage from this book to give you an example of how selfish Toy really is. Just to preface, Toy is talking to her husband, Stephen, about how one of her dreams connects to an event that happened within the world of the story.

“No, you’re wrong. It’s something spectacular, something magnificent. Something about me is different from everyone else. I’m being dispatched on missions, like missions of mercy. What else could it be? All these dreams I’ve had. In every one there are children in some kind of grave danger. And I make a difference,” she said proudly, a fanatical fire burning in her eyes. “I feel great. It’s like my whole existence on earth has finally been validated, like I’ve been searching for this all my life”.

You see how often she refers to herself? That’s just one passage, Toy acts like this throughout the entire story. As you read, she is so set in her ways, that she doesn’t allow herself to take other people’s beliefs, views, and perspectives into consideration. A good example of this is her conflict with Stephen. This part of the story felt so one-sided, with Toy making Stephen look like an antagonist just because his way of approaching situations is different from her own. She also has a negative effect on those around her. One of them is Sarah Mendleson, who is the female friend of Raymond, an artist with Autism. Shortly after Sarah meets Toy, she decides to take advantage of Raymond, who, at that point in the book, is facing one of the lowest points in his life.  She disguises herself as Toy, whose encounter with Raymond left a positive impact on him, even going so far as to dye her hair the same shade of red as Toy’s hair. Sarah does this to trick Raymond into thinking she’s Toy and to try to make him her future husband. The sad part is how Sarah’s plan seems to work, as she becomes his girlfriend by the end of the book. Speaking of Raymond, all of the male characters in California Angel are either villainized because of their profession or are used just to, simply, make the female characters look good. Raymond is just one example. He was my favorite character and I found his story to be interesting. However, Raymond’s story ended up getting taken over by Sarah. After a while, his purpose turns into becoming Sarah’s love interest and standing up for Toy.

  • About 90% of this story revolves around Toy. Because of how unlikeable she was, it was difficult for me to get through this book.
  • I found the chapters in this novel to be longer than they should have been. In a typical thriller/mystery book, the pace is faster. This is done in an attempt to keep the audience on the edge of the seat and engaged in the story. But because the chapters in California Angel were too long, this make it difficult to enjoy the book.
  • In the synopsis listed on the back of the book, it says that Toy, within the story, is accused being a kidnapper and murderer. However, this part of the novel doesn’t happen until the last five chapters. The book had suspenseful moments sprinkled throughout the story. However, it was not a thrilling narrative from start from finish like I had expected.
  • There are several inconsistencies and flaws in logic that can be found in California Angel. In this book, Toy believes that the only way she can help children is in her dreams, which happen to translate into actual events within her world. However, Toy is a teacher and has provided financial assistance to one of the families that belong to her school community. Therefore, her actions and choices contradict her argument. When Toy receives letters from all over the world, her mother, Ethel, tells her that the letters were written by “little children” and “older people”. But two pages letters, she references the letters again, saying, “all of them from lovely little children”. So, were children the primary authors of these letters then?
  • The way that Autism is talked about in California Angel sometimes feels outdated. In at least two parts of the book, Raymond refers to his Autism as an “illness”. After Toy’s encounter with Raymond, that happens in a prologue, it says that “Raymond had simply snapped out of it” and he recovered from Autism. I’m not as educated on this particular subject as other people are. But, based on what I do know, I know that this is not how Autism works. Autism is a neurological disorder that one must live with. Sure, there are ways to manage and even overcome the symptoms associated with this medical condition. However, it’s not something that simply goes away.
  • While reading this book, it felt like Nancy used her story to try to capitalize on Touched by an Angel and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (which were both released in 1994, a year before California Angel was published) without showing a complete understanding or attempting to show a complete understanding of why people like those stories in the first place. In this novel, there was a courtroom scene that felt like a repeat of the aforementioned Christmas film. Even some of the events leading up to this scene felt reminiscent of that moment from the movie. But the difference between California Angel and Miracle on 34th Street is that Santa, for the entirety of the story, was portrayed as a likable character. This made it easy for the audience to root for him.

Overall score: 0 out of 5

Have fun at the library!

Sally Silverscreen