Directed By: Eric Small
Written By: Eric Small
Produced By: Tani Cohen, Eric Small
Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ryan Kelley, Michael Angarano
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 99 minutes
Review Date: September 17, 2010
Taking a children’s movie into a fantasy world has returned staples such as Peter Pan; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Where the Wild Things Are; The NeverEnding Story; and Alice in Wonderland. One that will never make the list: The Dust Factory. Maybe director Eric Small should have looked at adapting this storyline to a short rather than a feature film, as nothing really happens, ever.
A fantasy world means all bets are off and that your imagination can roam just as freely as it wants. So imagine going into a place like this where the only thing out of the ordinary is skating on water and disappearing at random times. It’s as boring as it sounds.
The Dust Factory takes a mute teenager, Ryan Flynn (Ryan Kelley), who suffers a terrible fall, landing him in this alternate world. His Grandpa Randolph (Armin Mueller-Stahl) leads him on a journey to show him the real world isn’t all that bad. Along the way, Flynn befriends Melanie Lewis (Hayden Panettiere), a girl who also is trapped in this other world but doesn’t seem to mind it.
While in this alternate world, Lewis and Flynn gallivant around, with Grandpa Randolph constantly keeping watch to ensure his grandson really knows what he’s giving up by staying in this realm of life.
Eventually Flynn wants to leave, and naturally take Lewis with him, so he must fight a creepy circus ringleader for his freedom. Flynn, being a hockey fan, must skate and shoot his way back to the reality world. The scene is painful to watch and would make Gordon Bombay of Mighty Ducks fame cringe.
The film ends just as predictable as one expects. But the moral you walk away with is that life with your parents isn’t all that bad. And that at the end of the day, you can always count on your friends. So if you need a reminder of this message, skip The Dust Factory and opt for Hook or Wizard of Oz.
Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.