This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 23rd September 2012
This family-friendly slice of good, clean Kiwi fun tells the adventure of 12-year-old Ben, a determined lad inspired by family tragedy to enter the Nelson Trolley Derby.
The story unfolds with a witty, speedily-told evocation of old-time New Zealand with its child gangsters and the birth of the city’s fabled trolley race.
It nicely foreshadows the modern-day baddies that Ben (Legend of the Seeker‘s Edward Hall) will encounter as he abides by the rules in building his own trolley while at the same time defending his family pride against Vince Martin’s obnoxious sons. The Aussies are hilariously cast as corrupt and tacky – Martin runs the local business, Wayne’s Classy Cars, and chastises his son for calling someone a “dup-stuck” – in a Kiwi accent. While Wayne’s crew will stop at nothing to win the derby, the DIY-inclined Ben holds the moral high ground.
Like a proper Boys’ Own adventure story, Ben has a loving mum (Tandi Wright from TV’s Nothing Trivial) and a well-meaning if goofy school teacher (comedian Dai Henwood providing the light relief). But it’s the friendships that count, beautifully portrayed by the young Kiwi cast. My 8 and 9-year-old companions alerted me to the likely ending in stage-whispered tones but still branded this film “really good. It has a lot of drama, though not as much as Jurassic Park“.
True. But without a hobbit or a wizard in sight, it’s refreshing for viewers of any age to see what enormous fun a few sunshine hours and a piece of No 8 wire can deliver.
Put the Xbox away – this is a perfect opportunity for dads and sons (and daughters) to get in some family time.