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Make it a triple

We saw Flight last weekend, and the first two hours were completely riveting both for–SPOILER–the minute-by-minute, you-are-there depiction of a plane flight in increasingly worse trouble; and for Denzel Washington’s portrayal of a bad-boy pilot who enjoys a drink or three. Upon takeoff.

But–SPOILERRR–the last twenty minutes encompassed no fewer than three endings as the pilot 1) admits he’s an alcoholic, 2) says he’s an alcoholic in an AA meeting, 2.5) in PRISON, before 3) rapprochementing with his estranged teenaged son in the Yard. Honestly, it all felt like the teen-alkie novels of the 1970s: lurid scenes of an addict out of control followed by a car accident and subsequent sobering up and declaration of addiction in a room full of strangers. In library school I did a study of about a dozen of these suckers and they all followed the same pattern, right down to the epiphanic car crash. (As I’ve said before, people like to complain about the over-preponderance of vehicular homicide as a trope of early gay YA but in fact that was a feature of any teen novel that required a dramatic wakeup call for its protagonist.) To give the movie credit, the relationship between the pilot’s problem and the plane crash is interestingly complicated, but surely it didn’t need to take the easy way out more than once.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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