Released: 28th February
Seen: 7th March
So this film has gone under many names, for some reason. Originally from Iceland, the film was released under the title “Lói: Þú Flýgur Aldrei Einn“. In several English speaking countries, the film was released under the title “Ploey: You Never Fly Alone“, which is a little bit wordy but it works. In the USA, Spain and Germany it just got the title “Ploey“, which is a perfect single word title… I saw it under the title Flying the Nest which is a horrible title thought up by bad people who don’t understand how you work with words. Even I, noted bad word user, thought that title was a garbage title and was not looking forward to this movie based upon that title. Then I walked into the cinema and out of over 160 seats, I was the only person there. Bad title, no audience, and then the film started and I realised that I had made a terrible mistake by going to see this movie. I will be referring to this movie by the title I saw it under for the remainder of the review because I want you to have that stupid title drilled into your skull.
Flying The Nest follows Ploey, a plover chick who is part of a congregation of plovers that go to a remote island every year to lay eggs, hatch them and then teach their children how to fly. Ploey is, naturally, a little nervous about flying and that nervousness is even more intense when an evil eagle (I think, they never specify what kind of bird it is and frankly, I don’t care) called Shadow flies in and grabs Ploey’s dad, killing him. With the patriarch of the family killed, everyone flies away but Ploey accidentally gets left behind and so he must find a way to get to his family who left about 3 minutes before he got to the shoreline and he must do it without flying because he doesn’t want to fly because he’s scared of Shadow, but he totally could fly literally any time that he wanted because there’s nothing actually wrong with him but he’s being a whinging little bird who needs a cheap excuse to have something that technically resembles a plot… ugh.
From start to finish, this film is a slog to suffer through. When the opening joke of your film is a bunch of birds raining shit down from the sky then you know that you’re not exactly going for quality. That’s the first big comedic moment, the plovers fly in and we get to watch as large white drops of bird excrement rain down upon the dock that two other birds are sitting on, those birds run and hide from the raining crap like they were soldiers in a warzone trying to dodge an incoming missile strike. This is the films big opening; there is no way on earth this film was going to work. It’s also the only moment that’s potentially a funny joke. Everything else is either an unfunny rip-off of a Tweety Bird cartoon, an idiotic attempt at fourth wall breaking that is done exactly once by one character for no reason or a bunch of shockingly bad accents that are so shockingly bad that it’s amazing that this movie had voice actors… and then you look up the cast, learn how many actors doubled up on roles who have no other credits to their name and it becomes clear that they did that because they aren’t good voice actors.
Do you know who else isn’t good? The character design because literally, no one in this film stands out. Everyone has the exact same model with the difference being eye colour and maybe hairstyle, but they’re never so obviously different that you can separate them. They also have no personalities so there are even fewer ways to tell the difference. Early on in the film, they kill Ploey’s dad which might have an effect if I didn’t see that exact same bird model used in the next shot, framed in such a way that it looked like the main characters dad was alive. Also, every single one of the mice is the same model, no difference of any kind and they look awful. They sound awful. They act awfully. There is nothing to make any of these characters even remotely interesting or unique, except that one of them finds a way to die about three times. Seriously, death means nothing in this film because every character seems to die and come back to life, except for the father who stays dead (But his model lives on forever).
The story is a pathetic mess of repeated ideas and a misunderstanding of the basic concept of dramatic tension. The entire film revolves around this idea that Ploey can’t fly south for the winter. That he’s just incapable of doing it and that’s why he needs to walk from his remote island to a different part of the globe. Ignoring the fact that this bizarre geography issue means that the movie is implying that Ploey can walk on water (Hell, he can hover above snow so maybe he can) there’s just the little issue that there is no valid reason whatsoever that Ploey doesn’t fly. They try to make it about how it’s all in his mind, but we see him fly, we see his friends fly. He never tries to fly until the allegedly shocking moment near the end where he can suddenly fly perfectly, but there’s never any real reason he can’t so why should I care? There’s no tension there. When characters die multiple times and then come back, that sucks the tension out. When the villain doesn’t actively hunt Ploey but just keeps stumbling across him for no reason, there’s no dramatic tension there.
Oh, god, the villain might be the worst thing. He’s a villain because he eats plovers and that might work as a formidable antagonist in a story that focuses around the very birds that he eats… it might work if he actually kept going after them and was a viable threat throughout the movie but he’s not. He’s an afterthought, thrown in to give the movie a climax that it never deserved. He doesn’t go looking for Ploey, he doesn’t even seem to really care about him in any fashion, he’s just there. There is literally one scene where he had something potentially interesting going on where he talks to a mirror that talks back to him… and I mean one scene, it’s never brought up before and doesn’t impact after, it’s a weird scene that has no purpose.
The animation is just below basic, never rising to the level of good but never dropping to comically bad. it’s that fun kind of animation where everything looks competent at first and then you notice proportions being off or people walking without leaving footprints (Something that you can literally learn how to make the program itself do in under 10 minutes… literally, I am linking to a video tutorial that isn’t even 10 minutes long with how to do this exact thing in Cinema 4D and I promise you that whatever program that was used in order to make this movie has the exact same controls) or characters that clearly look like they want to fly THROUGH the clouds but the models are so far away from each other in the program that such a thing is impossible. This movie was completely fixable on a visual level. Even if they had kept the bad and bland designs that they decided to use, they could’ve used them in a competent manner but that sounded too much like it would take effort so why bother with that.
Flying the Nest is an abysmal failure of a film with nothing to offer the audience. There are no laughs, no memorable characters and any potential set pieces that could work were done better before by Tweety Bird, Land Before Time and Frozen. It’s a dull mistake of a film that proves that there is something a lot worse than gross commercialisation aimed towards children, and that’s indifference to basic quality standards. There are a thousand better films out there that you can use to distract your child with, but do not force them to endure this slogfest. Take them to a good movie that actually tries to be a movie. You could do so much better than this… literally, you could probably make a better animated film than this because at least an animated film made by a first-time animator might have some semblance of a personality