" Oh no you don’t. I don’t want to be a politician. "
— Raymond Massey as Abe Lincoln, Abe Lincoln in Illinois

MRQE Top Critic

The Great Train Robbery

(review...)

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I have to say up-front that there are about four segments in this film that nearly ruin it. Each introduces an artificial, good/evil conflict. Thankfully, each segment is resolved very quickly. Nevertheless, they really drag down an otherwise beautiful movie.

Having said that, let me say that this is one of the best “kid” movies in recent memory. Even for someone without kids, it’s a very good film.

13-year-old Amy (Anna Paquin) moves to Canada after her mother dies. She doesn’t fit in and her father is often too busy for her. One day, while Amy is moping and ditching school, she discovers an abandoned clutch of eggs. She takes them to the barn and incubates them. Sixteen Canada geese hatch and imprint to her. Amy has become a mommy.

Dad (Jeff Daniels) sees what is happening and realizes that when the geese grow up they will want to migrate. But without a mother to lead the way, they could get lost. An amateur aviator himself, he buys an ultralight for his daughter and teaches her to fly. Together, father and daughter will teach the geese how to fly south for the winter.

The movie is roughly based on a true story. The part about imprinting the geese is all true. In fact, about 60 geese were specially hatched and imprinted on people for this film. The story between father and daughter is fictional.

But the story is well-chosen. It has a lot to do with parental responsibility. Dad wasn’t there for Amy for 10 years. Now fatherhood has been thrust upon him and he has to do his best to keep up. In contrast, Amy chose “motherhood” and takes her responsibility very seriously. Ironically, both father and daughter will see their offspring mature at the same time. Both have to teach their kids how to live for themselves, and then they both have to let go.

Seeing the true story of the geese also makes this film great. There are many shots of geese following ultralights around the sky. There is some use of special effects, but the most breathtaking shots are clearly not faked. The beautiful aerial cinematography really rounds out the film nicely.

As I said, a few gratuitous conflicts nearly ruin the film, but the strength of the story and the great photography are too strong for a few moments of bad scripting.

Don’t put yourself above kids movies just because you don’t have kids. Give this one a try.