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flyboys
Click for full sized poster

Flyboys

Starring James Franco
Screenplay by Phil Sears & Blake T. Evans and David S. Ward
Directed by Tony Bill
website: www.mgm.com/flyboys

IN SHORT: No big buzz. [Rated PG-13 for war action violence and some sexual content. ]

Back in Nineteen and Sixteen there was a might nasty conflict a brewin over the waters in the old countries. That didn't matter much to Blaine Rawlings (James Franco), who had bigger problems paying the note on the family farm. As in he couldn't. As in the sheriff gave him a friendly nudge to get outta town, and a half hour lead. And so young mister Rawlings came to be in France, one of a motley group of American volunteers for the French air force, the Lafayette Escadrille, learning to fly and battle up in the sky. Alongside him are a motley crue, only briefly introduced in a rushed First Act: One rich kid sent off by his even richer dad to "become a man." One negro boxer, an expatriated American who journeyed to France because, hey, the States weren't a great place for the son of a slave to be at the turn of the last century.

The Great War which, for obvious reasons, came to be called World War I was an insanely bloody affair. We know from History Class and from the reaction of our grandfather, who manned a machine gun in the Ardennes Forest. To his dying day, the man would never, repeat never, speak about the war. It didn't break him but it sure shook him good. That's probably why the best WWI films are set in the sky. There is such a mythology that has grown around the first group of air warriors that, hey, a good dogfight is usually worth the popcorn money.

Boy, we hope you didn't see the televison commercial for Flyboys. If you did, there is no point in laying out the cash for this disappointment.

Except for Rawlings, ostensibly the lead character, we don't get much to set up the supporting cast. Way down in the second act, everyone starts talking about why they fight. It was far too late to make us care any more about the characters than we had already established in our mind.

Flyboys just isn't an interesting movie. Sure, there's a myth-generating flyer on the Other Side. Sure, there is jostling between the established "killers" and the newbies in the local bar. Sure, there are dogfights.We understand why the cllimactic fights of the second and third acts are built as they are. We've seen so many war movies we walked out of the screening room thinking they should've been swapped.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Flyboys, he would have paid . . .

$3.00

Wait and rent. You'll want to get real close (or get a real big screen TV) for the dogfights.

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