Parents' Guide to

Radio Flyer

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Child abuse, alcoholism in coming-of-age tearjerker.

Movie PG-13 1992 114 minutes
Radio Flyer Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 1 parent review

age 10+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

This movie raises many questions and leaves quite a few unanswered. What really happened to a young boy who is told to have escaped an abusive and alcoholic stepfather by flying away on a little red wagon converted into an airplane? Is the father who is telling this story of his upbringing to his kids sugarcoating the ending to spare them a harsh reality he has otherwise not avoided in the telling? Is the ending a cop-out hiding under the guise of magical realism? Is it acceptable for a movie to suggest that a boy can escape child abuse by hurtling down a hill in a wagon with parts MacGyvered into making the wagon a flying machine?

Even as a movie set in a time before there was the understanding of the cycles of abuse, secrecy, and denial that are now commonly known to be impediments to getting help for those who are victims of domestic abuse, and a time when the law was more hands-off in these matters, Radio Flyer fails in trying to meld a coming-of-age story that mixes harsh reality and blind-faith magic. And using "promises mean something" as a moral to a story in which an older brother keeps his promise to his younger brother not to tell their mother that he's getting beaten by his stepfather, while certainly plausible in the situation outlined in the movie, seems like a lousy way and example to teach that lesson.

Movie Details

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