The adolescent title characters of "The Flyboys" are played by a pair of decent young actors, Reiley McClendon and Jesse James. And these two act and behave like real kids.
If only some of the other characters (both young and adult) in this film acted like real, flesh-and-blood humans. Instead, they're buffoonish caricatures, the same tiresome stereotypes of gangsters and bullies that we've seen in umpteen other movies and television productions.
Also, this locally produced film can't quite settle on a consistent tone. At times it's a rather light-hearted family adventure. But parts of it also become a mean-spirited crime thriller. That light-dark contrast doesn't quite work.
But the leads are appealing. Kyle Barrett (McClendon) is a newcomer who's recently befriended an unpopular fellow student, Jason McIntyre (James).
The two bonded over a confrontation with school bullies. And they've discovered a mutual love for flying and planes, which Jason's pilot uncle, Ed (Dallen Getling), has encouraged.
However, the two youths also accidentally stow aboard a small passenger plane that's owned by mobster Angelo Esposito (Tom Sizemore). And when they awaken to find that the plane is aloft and that there's no pilot they have to land the craft, setting it down in the middle of a busy highway.
It turns out the plane was hijacked by Angelo's gambler brother, Silvio (Stephen Baldwin), who bailed out with some stolen casino loot. Silvio discovers there were stowaways after the fact and is afraid that Kyle and Jason may have seen him.
When things are in the air, the film does all right. A couple of action scenes are exciting and very well-done. One of these is the plane-landing sequence, the other is a skydiving stunt.
But there's some odd casting. Irksome supporting actor J. Todd Adams looks like a cross between Dustin "Screech" Diamond and David Arquette, but his performance makes some of theirs look subtle by comparison.
And Jennifer Slimko, who plays Kyle's mother, looks far to young to be the parent of an early teen."The Flyboys" is rated PG-13 for some strong violent action (vehicular mayhem, bullying and adolescents-in-peril), scattered profanity, brief gore and blood, derogatory language, including slurs based on sexual preference, some vulgar slang terms, brief, partial male nudity (a so-called "mooning"), and brief drug references. Running time: 122 minutes.
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