“Storm Boy” – Mr. Proud, Mr. Ponder and Mr. Percival.
Mike (Finn Little) is about 10 years-old and lives on an isolated beach with his dad (Jai Courtney) in Southern Australia, and one morning, he stumbles upon three abandoned baby pelicans.
These tiny babies with pink skin and shut eyes are as vulnerable as snowballs in a desert. Mike scoops them up before they – along with the audience – melt, and with his friend Bill (David Gulpilil), they devise ways to feed these tiny, precious creatures.
Soon, Mr. Proud, Mr. Ponder and Mr. Percival grow up to be adult pelicans, and rather than fly away and join a flock with their cousins, aunts, uncles, and other white-feathered acquaintances, they live with Mike and his dad in an unusual but also loving household.
Director Shawn Seet’s “Storm Boy” is a remake of the classic 1976 film (based on a 1966 children’s novel), that is as important to Australians, as Lassie is to American audiences. Even more, “Storm Boy” (1976) is also a beloved piece of pop culture that rivals “Star Wars” (1977) in terms of importance, and it won Best Film honors from Australia Film Institute in 1977.
(By the way, Gulpilil starred as Bill in both films, 43 years apart!)
Courtney – a Sydney native – echos his love for the original during a recent interview and said, “When I was asked to come aboard (for a “Storm Boy” remake), it was a total no-brainer.”
The 2019 film volleys between Mike’s childhood and his current present. He (Geoffrey Rush) is a retired, successful businessman who reminisces about the past, while his son-in-law (Erik Thomson) wants to take Mike’s company in a new direction that will pillage untouched lands. Mike’s idealist granddaughter has more unsullied, idealist philosophies, and her conflict reminds him of his days on 90 Mile Beach with his dad.
These present-day moments work, when Mike delivers soliloquies of advice and comfort, but the devised struggles between the generations within the corporate world carry less weight.
In the past, however, “Storm Boy” navigates well and promises to deliver tears. Mike raises his elegant birdies through inventive feeding routines and proud walks into town, and he unconditionally loves them inside and outside their home. Now, even though Hideaway Tom (Courtney) owns valid but corrosive reasons for living miles from anyone except his own son and Bill (another loner with other motives for his isolation), he – begrudgingly – accepts the Misters as Mike’s responsibility. Tom might be a disciplinarian but is not Mike’s adversary. This is refreshing, of course, because Seet and writer Justin Monjo introduce two fearsome antagonists into Mike’s world, and thankfully Tom truly is not his third. At least in Tom’s eyes, that is.
This family film for kids of every age taps all the right notes and tugs on our emotions through innocent frolic and warm cuddles, while also driving clarity that youthful joys always lead to an eventual end.
In the meantime, enjoy 99 minutes of Mr. Proud, Mr. Ponder and Mr. Percival.
⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Image credits: Sony Pictures Releasing; Trailer credits: Rapid Trailer