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Jan 29, 2007

MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



James Franco

Scott Hazell


2006 MGM Home Entertainment

Still shot from the movie: Flyboys.

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Reviewed by

Overall B
Run Time140

Making the Grades

Like most modern inventions, the airplane had hardly left the ground before someone came up with an idea of how to use it as an instrument of war. In Flyboys, we learn about some Americans that joined the legendary French Lafayette Escadrille and risked their lives serving as some of the first military pilots.

The script follows a handful of these US born soldiers, including Briggs Lowry (James Franco), whose father foists him into the service; African-American boxer Eugene Skinner (Abdul Salis), an expatriate enjoying the racial tolerance extended to him in France; Blaine Rawlings (James Franco), a man with little to lose after the bank forecloses on his family's ranch; and Lyle Porter (Michael Jibson), a devout Christian who flies by faith.

For the most part, these young men were just looking for adventure in the sky. With the Allied powers of France, England and Italy losing ground to the aggressive Germans, the naive volunteers are readily welcomed by the French. Taken under the wing of Captain Thenault (Jean Reno) and veteran US flyer Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson), the flyboys are trained in aircraft operation, fighting techniques, and how to quickly take their own life in the event of an impending crash.

Anyone who is a war movie buff will likely find something to enjoy here. Touted as the first movie in forty years to focus on the aerial battles of World War I, seeing these vintage aircraft in action is truly exciting -- even if some scenes are obvious electronic recreations. Unfortunately, all the dogfights and exciting combat sequences don't leave much remaining runtime in which to get to know and care about the large cast of characters.

The resulting violence will also be a concern for parents. Besides planes being shot down, the loss of human life is depicted in detailed crashes, falls from heights and pistol shots (one is self-inflicted). These portrayals and the many perilous situations depicted will undoubtedly be too intense for preteen audiences.

As well, these brave boys tip back more than a few glasses of booze after a day in the air, and manage to convince the teetotaler Christian to do the same. Visits to a local brothel are another recreational pastime -- although no untoward activity is seen.

Yet what keeps this film from crashing on our family viewing scale is its strong messages of loyalty, tolerance, and fighting for a valiant cause. An additional bonus is the historical value of remembering how these pioneering Flyboys helped to maintain freedom -- often at the cost of their own lives.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Flyboys.

How did the airplane change the way wars are fought? What modern inventions have been adapted to serve defensive and offensive purposes today? Can you think of any positive things society has gained from the technology developed for military use?

For more information about the real Lafayette Escadrille, see or

Canadian Movie Ratings

PG Violence.
AB PG Violence, Not Recommended For Young Children.
MB 14A Violence
ON PG Violence.
QC G Not recommended for young children.

Canadian Home Video Rating: PG

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of Flyboys...

DVD Release Date: 30 January 2007

Soaring onto DVD, Flyboys makes its d0xE9but in three different editions, and in both wide and full screen presentations. The solo disc features audio commentary from director Tony Bill and producer Dean Devlin. Audio tracks are available in English (5.1 DTS and 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound), French (2.0 Dolby Surround) and Spanish (2.0 Dolby Surround), with English and Spanish subtitles.

The Flyboys 2-Disc Special Edition includes the aforementioned commentary a well as 15-minutes of deleted scenes, theatrical trailers and the following featurettes: Real Heroes: The Lafayette Escadrille, The Diary of a Miniature Stunt Pilot (a spoof on one of the film’s ?stuntmen?), Whiskey and Soda The Lion Mascots, Taking Flight The Making of Aerial Battle Sequences, The Real Planes of Flyboys, and The Flyboys Ride With the Air Force Thunderbirds & The Navy Blue Angels. A Flyboys Squadron DVD-ROM game should keep all armchair pilots amused too. Audio tracks are available in English (5.1 DTS and 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound), French (2.0 Dolby Surround) and Spanish (2.0 Dolby Surround), with English and Spanish subtitles.

The Flyboys Blu-ray Edition offers all of the above plus The Flyboys Aerial Guide trivia track. The dual-layer 50 GB disc authored in HDMV provides audio tracks in English (DTS 5.1 HD Lossless Master Audio), French (5.1 Dolby Digital) and Spanish (5.1 Dolby Digital), with subtitles in Spanish.

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