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An autistic boy who dreams of flying touches everyone he meets, including a new family who has moved in after their father dies.
- Nick Castle
- Nick Castle
- Lorimar Productions
- Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
In the 1986 film The Boy Who Could Fly, Jay Underwood plays Eric Gibb, an autistic boy who lives with his alcoholic uncle Hugo Gibb (played by Fred Gwynne) and befriends the new girl next door, Millie Michaelson. Because Eric is unable to verbally communicate and his parents died when he was five in a plane crash, Eric faces the constant threat of institutionalization by unsympathetic social workers who believe he is a threat to himself and the community because Eric has an affinity for climbing onto rooftops and standing on window sills. Throughout the film, audiences often see Eric standing with arms outstretched and eyes closed, as if he believes that he is flying or can fly. At school, Eric's English teacher Mrs. Sheridan (played by Colleen Dewherst) advocates for him and encourages Millie to bond with Eric. In the months that follow, Eric and Millie form a close bond and Millie begins to suspect that there is more to Eric than appears. Specifically, Millie begins to suspect that Eric actually can fly, especially when he appears to jump from her windowsill to his and when he saves her from falling off a bridge on a school trip to the zoo. While Millie cannot remember Eric flying to save her, she can come up with no other explanation for her miraculous rescue. Unfortunately when Hugo goes on a drinking binge, social workers remove Eric from his home and place him in an institution where Eric is heavily medicated and often restrained. Millie eventually helps Eric escape from the institution and when confronted by social workers and the police at their high school, Eric grabs Millie's hand and the two literally fly away from the school and soar over rooftops to Millie's home. In a scene reminiscent from E.T., Millie and her family face the onslaught of reporters and scientists investigating the boy who could fly while Eric disappears forever into the clouds.