There’s plenty of drama hiding in this tale of two families’ daring escape from East to West Germany by homemade hot-air balloon, but this Disney production can’t find much of it. Unbelievable mix of actors from different nations is forced to deliver one bad line after another.
Story is a dramatic natural, as two construction workers, fed up with life behind the Iron Curtain, conspire to fashion a giant balloon out of household fabric and pilot it over the forbidding, heavily guarded half-mile zone between the two Germanys. First attempt doesn’t quite make it but, despite fact that the secret police begin sniffing their trail, they try again, with suspenseful, successful results.
It all happened in 1978-79 and everything about it would indicate the potential for a grippingly serious family adventure pic. But script so seriously stumbles in the exposition stage that recovery is difficult even in the close-call climax.