For the Australians who grew up reading Thiele's treasured book, this drama will no doubt be a captivating, special tale; for those unfamiliar, it will be more of a challenge to stay engaged. Australian children are taught Storm Boy (the book) in elementary school: The story is full of exploration and adventure, love, loss, unexpected friendship, finding your voice, appreciating other cultures, and understanding the importance of protecting nature. This adaptation brings those elements to life, but it wraps the child's story into an adult one -- and, in doing so, it's likely to lose younger audiences within the first 10 minutes. From there, the story moseys along at a pace that might bore some kids.
On the other hand, who knew pelicans could make such good friends? The antics featuring young Michael's (Finn Little) pet, Mr. Percival, are adorable, and a memorable game of hide-and-seek is downright precious. Kids almost always respond to seeing others their age playing with wild animals; it's a fantasy come true. But the cheer comes to a devastating conclusion, and that defies the direction of most of today's family movies. The boy's hard work and protective measures don't pay off, in the cruelest of ways. Writer Justin Monjo has a cinematic fix for that, explaining that the tragedy wasn't in vain and allowing the teen girl in the modern story to succeed. But even the most thick-skinned kids may be shell-shocked by the film's conclusion.