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The Black Balloon

Toni Collette , Luke Ford , Elissa Down  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Price: $24.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Toni Collette, Luke Ford
  • Directors: Elissa Down
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: NeoClassics Films
  • DVD Release Date: March 19, 2012
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007HN3WV2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,153 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


"One of the Most Genuinely Enjoyable Films out of Australia in Years." --The Hollywood Reporter

"Funny, Fierce and Deeply Moving" --The Austin Chronicle

"Compassionate but Unblinking" --The San Francisco Chronicle

Product Description

When Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) and his family move to a new home and he has to start at a new school, all he wants is to fit in. When his pregnant mother (Toni Collette) has to take things easy, his father Simon (Erik Thomson) puts him in charge of his autistic older brother Charlie (Luke Ford). Thomas, with the help of his new girlfriend Jackie (Gemma Ward), faces his biggest challenge yet. Charlie's unusual antics take Thomas on an emotional journey that causes his pent-up frustrations about his brother to pour out - in a story that is funny, confronting, and ultimately heart-warming.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, Wild & Honest May 29, 2010
This is not a tearjerker about a handicapped young man and his saintly family, thank goodness. It's the story of an Australian family rattling along like a train about to derail at any minute. A very honest, accurate portrait of life with a mentally handicapped teenager. It's a fun but serious story, often funny, moving and heartbreaking sometimes.

Toni Collette is wonderful and lovable as the mother!

The main character, Thomas, is a quiet teenager who has started at a new high school and spies a girl in his gym class. Beyond those challenges he has an older brother, Charlie, with fairly severe autism and ADD. Life at home is wild and unpredictable. When keys are accidentally left in the front door, Charlie opens it and runs down the middle of the street. He happens to be wearing only sneakers, underwear and his favorite monkey-ears hat. It's funny and frightening at the same, because he's obviously in danger of harming himself. Brother Thomas runs after him, and we get the feeling Thomas has probably been rescuing his brother for all of his life.

It's a very good story, the characters are fun to watch. All families should be blessed with the love, stamina and sense of humor that these folks have. But the film is never syrupy or preachy.

Personal note: I have a teenage son with autism. I would not recommend this movie to families who have a little child w/autism, because it would probably be very depressing. It's not possible to really predict what level of impairment an autistic child will have when they reach their teens. I just feel that this movie could easily add fear and stress to parents of, say, a Kindergartner with autism -- and those folks need only love and support!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "....another man's Hell..." April 7, 2009
**You will need a multi-region player to play this DVD**

As 50-year old parents of an 18-year Autistic son, the better half and I sat down to watch "The Black Balloon" with an open mind. She thought it was honest, true to life and moving - I thought it was brutal, clinically exploitive and deeply hurtful to those of us who actually have to live with - and grow old with - this difficult condition.

First up - Autism doesn't sell - so the cover of the DVD slyly tries to pan it off as a teenage love story - when most of movie is dominated by the lead character's Autistic brother whose inappropriate, but unintentional outbursts make life for him, his parents and their family - a living hell.

This is an Icon Production - Mel Gibson's company - and I've found his movies bludgeon you over the head in order to extract emotion. If he can't gore it up, he'll hurt it up. As other reviewers have pointed out, the brother's behaviour is wild (rubbing excrement into the carpet, punch outs at home, tantrums in supermarkets) - some of which does happen, but most doesn't. No experienced parents would take their son to such situations precisely because it will precipitate such behaviour - these film parents are conveniently clueless - and that just doesn't wash. Then there's the horrific cruelty of the Australian school kids and neighbours - again all of it so over the top as to beggar belief.

But the worst scene is after a particularly horrific home incident, the special needs brother Charlie (played by Luke Ford) supposedly apologises in sign language to his brother Thomas (played by Rhys Wakefield) - this just wouldn't happen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Aussie coming-of-age flick with great photography January 17, 2011
I've been watching more and more Australian films over the last few years, mostly because there are a lot of great actors coming out of Australia and when I look into their body of work, I come across their films from there. After discovering young Aussie actor Rhys Wakefield in the trailer to the upcoming film Sanctum (2011), I checked out his recent short film Clearing the Air (2009), and also added his film The Black Balloon (2008) to my Netflix queue.

What I was struck by more than anything else while watching this small foreign indie film today, was the amazing care and craftsmanship that obviously went into it. The movie starts with an incredibly creative opening credit sequence set to good Australian pop/rock music. The graphics for the titles are really cool, creative, and unusual in the way they are presented, which I really enjoyed and felt inspired by. Australian director Elissa Down wrote and directed this film based on her own family and childhood. The Black Balloon is basically a coming-of-age film, following in the footsteps of so many before it, but adding a new unique tale to the collection.

The story centers around Thomas, played very well by Wakefield, and his family. Toni Collette plays the typical "weird" mother that we've become accustomed to her playing in The Sixth Sense (1999), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and About A Boy (2002). And Luke Ford plays Charlie, Thomas' severely autistic brother. Having a "spastic", as kids love to call Charlie, presents a lot of challenges for Thomas and his family. Thomas is a teenager who of course feels the pressure of fitting in and just wants a normal brother, a normal family, and a normal teenage life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie
This is a great indie film. If you haven't seen it you need to change that. You won't be disappointed.
Published 4 months ago by Adam Lee Mullen
2.0 out of 5 stars Not appropriate for high school students
I'm a high school teacher and I bought this to show my classes b/c it was only rated PG-13. There was a lot of sexual inferences and suggestions. Read more
Published 10 months ago by sherrie
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my Top Five Favorites Movies
Describing why I like the "The Black Balloon" is hard. It's not the usual type of movie I'm drawn to. It doesn't have big explosions or lots of quirky comedy. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Madeline
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's Top Gun
Lots of water symbolism in this movie, like with Charlie's Noah's Ark play, and his brother Thomas' lifeguard training. And there's a bathtub scene at the end! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Yosuta
4.0 out of 5 stars Ultra-realistic Funny-Serious Film
THE BLACK BALLOON is an immediately real Australian film about Charlie, a boy-man with severe autism and ADD, and his family. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Doug Park
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic depiction of a family's life with autism
Of the very few films currently available that revolve around characters with autism, "The Black Balloon" is simply the best. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Erik Gfesser
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely done film
A portrait of a complex problem done in a very honest and human way. This was a nice independent film.
Published 21 months ago by Jeff Schneider
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing and 'out of the box' movie
This movie (as one reviewer put, boring, uninteresting and not for him) has just now become one of my favorite movies. It is SO non [h]ollywood. The plot carries the movie. Read more
Published on August 5, 2012 by michael
4.0 out of 5 stars Brotherly Love
It is a story of a family supporting an autism-stricken son more and more affecting the life of his coming-in-the-age brother. Read more
Published on August 3, 2012 by Michael Kerjman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See!
Great movie! It had everything. Romantic comedy, emotion, realism and at times just plain funny. A lot of people would think this is (coming of age movie) but I actually believe it... Read more
Published on May 27, 2012 by dina girl
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