Parents' Guide to

How I Learned to Fly

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Compassionate, mature drama has both tragedy and hope.

Movie NR 2023 104 minutes
How I Learned to Fly Movie Poster: The face of Daniel Davis (Marcus Scribner), looking world-weary, and gazing to the right, with smaller images of Cliff Davis (Method Man, top), Louis (Cedric the Entertainer, center), and Eli Davis (Lonnie Chavis, bottom)

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Gentle and deeply compassionate, this drama manages to depict harsh realities without being harsh itself, focusing on hope and change. How I Learned to Fly begins with a striking sequence: Daniel sees something in the kitchen that shocks him, he picks up his phone, dials 9-1-… and stops. He realizes -- and viewers may, too, that what he's doing could result in more trouble rather than solutions. Writer/director Simon Steuri (who is White and Swiss) provides plenty of real-world threat in the film, including Eli having his shoes stolen and a jaw-dropping scene involving Daniel and the brothers' (clearly abusive) father (Method Man, in a blistering performance).

But all of this is contrasted with moments of kindness, such as an interaction with a White police officer or when Yaya (Michele Selene Ang) lets the boys shower in her laundromat. A list of "rules" first written on the boys' ceiling and later on the roof of their car -- "We don't lie," "We wash our clothes," "We do our homework," etc. -- becomes a sweet, special, unspoken, ongoing dialogue. And there are exquisite moments of magical realism, such as the boys burning a box of "Bad Memories" and Daniel's terrifying dreams of falling slowly turning into dreams of floating and flying. A gorgeous, soulful score full of old-timey-sounding R&B and jazz helps the delicate mood, prompting comparisons to Moonlight and Imperial Dreams). How I Learned to Fly is a beautiful movie; it's unafraid of tragedy, but it's equally unafraid of hope.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate