Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 17 News List

Nothing like boys in uniform

This genial story of a time when war was fought by gentleman and nobody got badly hurt

By Nathan Lee  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Flyboys has lots of good looking lads in tight fitting uniforms; what more could you want?

PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX

Nostalgia carried beyond a certain point becomes a form of stupidity. And, as a poet once said, stupidity carried beyond a certain point becomes a public menace. Flyboys ascends close enough to this danger zone to singe its wings, yearning for a time when wars were fought by gentlemen, combat was glamorous and the French were amused by monolingual Americans.

Of this history, Flyboys makes a soppy fantasy, representing war with approximately the level of realism marshaled by Team America: World Police. Leading the puppet people is James Franco as Blaine Rawlings, a cowboy with blond highlights who takes time off from killing to woo a French country girl (Jennifer Decker). Joining him are a blue blood (Tyler Labine), a black boxer (Abdul Salis), a screw-up (David Ellison) and Jean Reno as a French captain, hamming it up like a supersized croque monsieur.

Despite its empty head and arduous length, Flyboys is ever so nice, in the manner of a Norman Rockwell illustration. The director, Tony Bill, may not be a philosopher but he is a gentleman, moving things along with a tidy, well-mannered hand. In another context, such politesse might feel tonic. Given the state of things, it's nearly toxic.

Film Notes

Flyboys

Directed by: Tony Bill

Starring: James Franco (Blaine Rawlings), Jean Reno (Captain Thenault), Martin Henderson (Reed Cassidy), Jennifer Decker (Lucienne), David Ellison (Eddie Beagle), Tyler Labine (Briggs Lowry), Abdul Salis (Eugene Skinner) and Philip Winchester (William Jensen)

Running time: 129 Minutes

Taiwan release: Today

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