Monday, April 1, 2019

Pelicans, as you've never seen them (& never will, actually), in Shawn Seet's STORM BOY

At the end of the end credits for STORM BOY, a new and contemporary re-telling of an Australian classic story, you can just barely read the following: This film is a work of fiction and does not represent the real biology or nature of pelicans. Keeping pelicans requires specialist knowledge. Pelicans are not suitable as pets.

Any viewers who've hung on until now (particularly those who know anything about pelicans) will probably laugh themselves silly at this information, as we've just seen a movie that is very nearly a complete fantasy -- one that goes utterly against those end-credit words of warning.

Based on the novel by Colin Thiele, with a screenplay by Justin Monjo, and directed with decent pacing and visual flair by Shawn Seet (shown at left), this modern-day version (an earlier film was made back in 1976) features Geoffrey Rush (below) as a kindly grand-dad who also sits on the board of an important something-or-other that is being environmentally threatened by mining interests.

Rush's son represents those interests, while his granddaughter is adamantly set against them and wants her grand-dad to help prevent the take-over. As grand-pappy wrestles with all this, he recalls his younger days and tells his grand-daughter the story of his life.

As you might imagine, the movie jumps back and forth in time from now to then, and we see the younger Rush (played by Finn Little, above), as he loses his mother in a car accident and then goes to live on a remote island with his grieving dad (Jai Courtney, below).

There, he and another island loner he meets (Trevor Jamieson, below, left) end up adopting a trio of orphaned pelicans, whom they help survive and then raise to adulthood, and the bond between boy and birds (especially one of the birds) becomes a strong one.

Sub-plots abound and the film is awash with certain stand-bys of Australian cinema, including the very wise and nature-connected Aborigine. There's a good deal of humor and plenty of emotion generated, too (anyone, like me, who is a shoo-in for human/wildlife bonding movies should bring an entire box of Kleenex to the theater).

Despite the near-complete unreality of the pelican/human relationship here, it will probably be difficult not to give in to the movie's beauty and emotional pull. (Bird lovers will simultaneously wince and wish it could be so.)

Past and present eventually coalesce, and we feel as though some sort of climate justice may occur, not to mention the doubling-in-area of the local sanctuary for birds. As I say, this is a fantasy movie, but done with enough skill and smarts to bring it to life -- at least for as long as the images flicker on the screen in front of you.

From Good Deed Entertainment and running 99 minutes, Storm Boy opens this coming Friday, April 5, nationwide. Here in South Florida,  you can see it in Miami at the AMC Aventura 24 and in the Fort Lauderdale area at the AMC Pompano 18. Wherever you live around the country, click here then scroll down to find a theater near you.

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