On a Wing and a Prayer Parent Guide
This movie crashes under the weight of its poor script and clunky acting.
Parent Movie Review
On the way back from his brother’s funeral, Doug (Dennis Quaid) grapples with a minor faith crisis brough on by his bereavement. But things get much worse: the pilot of the small twin-engine aircraft his family has chartered has a fatal heart attack mid-air, leaving Doug and his wife, Terri (Heather Graham) to fly the plane. Unfortunately, the only flying experience the two of them have is a quick discovery flight Doug went on a few weeks prior – one which he was unable to land without his instructor taking the controls. With their daughters Bailey (Abigail Rhyne) and Maggie (Jessi Case) on board, Doug is going to have to learn, and fast. He’s getting some help from the air traffic control tower, but no one there has much flight experience, and none at all with the type of aircraft he’s in. Worse, a large tropical storm is approaching right along his flight path, and if they don’t get the plane on the ground soon, there’s a good chance that it’s going to end up in the ocean.
You’d think that an ongoing air disaster would make for a compelling story, but I’d rather have been in one myself. Even if we ignore, for the moment, the bad acting and profoundly irritating writing, the film fails to focus on what it wants. We’ve already got a fistful of characters: Doug and his family, the air traffic controllers in two different airports, and some guy in Connecticut who is somehow the only person around with experience on this aircraft – and his girlfriend. That bloated cast is already more than we need, but why does this movie keep cutting to some teenage girl who’s listening in on the radio? She isn’t part of the story, has no influence on the outcome of the flight, and doesn’t explain anything to the audience that air traffic control didn’t explain five minutes earlier. The pacing is already bad, and it’s decisions like this that make this movie feel bloated, boring, and more than a little scattered.
Family audiences unconcerned with the very real risk that they could die of boredom will find few other issues to worry about. One character is shown drinking fairly heavily and is implied to have an alcohol abuse problem, and some married characters make some very mild innuendo at one another. That’s just about it, but that doesn’t mean your kids are going to enjoy this painful family adventure. It’s far worse than the sum of its parts.
This film also commits a cardinal sin in filmmaking, namely using an excruciatingly bad cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Am I the only person who’s actually listened to the lyrics for that song? I think Shrek might be the only film that’s used the song anywhere near appropriately. I wish that were the biggest problem here, but it’s just the rancid icing on this dumpster fire of a cake. This film succeeds at nothing apart from unintentional self-parody of soulless pseudo-Christian filmmaking. On a Wing and a Prayer has all the entertainment value of cleaning public restrooms and twice the irritation. Surely you can think of something you’d rather do.Directed by Sean McNamara. Starring Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham, Jesse Metcalfe. Running time: 102 minutes. Theatrical release April 7, 2023. Updated April 7, 2023
Watch the trailer for On a Wing and a Prayer
On a Wing and a Prayer
Rating & Content Info
Why is On a Wing and a Prayer rated PG? On a Wing and a Prayer is rated PG by the MPAA for peril, some language, suggestive references and thematic elements.
Violence: A man dies of a heart attack.
Sexual Content: A married couple are seen kissing and making very vague sexual remarks.
Alcohol / Drug Use: An adult character is seen drinking heavily and it’s implied that he’s a problem drinker.
Page last updated April 7, 2023
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A more realistic depiction of air traffic control in a disaster can be found in United 93 or Sully. Other films about trouble in the sky include 7500, Flightplan, Non-Stop, Die Hard 2, Plane, and another Christian film, Left Behind. More family friendly options include Planes, Planes: Fire and Rescue, andDevotion.