A blast from the past that will warm the cockles of nostalgic hearts, Frog Dreaming is an impressive gem that has a lot in common with The Goonies and other films of its time. Going under several alternative titles in the past, Frog Dreaming tells the story of a young orphan called Cody, a boy with a daredevil attitude and an eye for adventure. Now living with his new guardian in Australia, he spends the majority of his time building gadgets and hanging out with friends. Getting up to all kinds of mischief, Cody decides to go to Devil’s Knob National Park, a place with ties to aboriginal myth and legend. It’s there he finds a pond where a monster supposedly lives which the locals call "Donkegin”. As he investigates further, he soon finds evidence of strange occurrences and takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, Frog Dreaming has something of a cult following which is bound to be delighted by this latest release. Fresh from the success of E.T, Henry Thomas appears once again in the leading role and is able to put in another great performance. A likeable character who beams with confidence, Thomas is able to play Cody with an element of humility amongst a backdrop of colourful characters. Whether it’s the carefree nature of Tony Barry’s Gaza or Rachel Friends' doting Wendy, both are able to add an element of depth to Cody who seems hellbent on finding out what lives at the bottom pond. Then there’s Tamsin West who plays Jane, Wendy’s sister, who is a delight to behold whenever she appears on screen. Feisty, witty and full of energy, the film greatly misses her presence whenever she’s not around.
The script is decent enough, although there are times when the pacing stutters ever so slightly. This is mostly due to the film keeping the sisters out of the action while leaving Cody to investigate alone. If the trio of friends had been left together, it would have greatly benefited the overall tone whilst keeping the friendly camaraderie fun and exciting to watch. One of its biggest praises, however, has to be directed at its modest budget. For such a small production, Trenchard-Smith has been able to give the film a real shine by relying on practical effects and shots of the lush surroundings.
A light-hearted romp which will take viewers back to their childhood days of exploration, Frog Dreaming is a family friendly relic from the past. Fans will have an abundance of extras to keep them entertained, with plenty of interviews and retrospective insights into the film's production. Although the picture quality may not have had much of an overhaul, it still looks beautiful thanks to the rural backdrop of Woods Point in Australia. Interviews with actors reflecting on their time on set will leave fans with a smile on their face, and the melancholic look back at past shooting locations is a classy addition.
Overall, Frog Dreaming is a film which will hold sentimental value to those who grew up watching it. Although it doesn’t live up to the classics, it still holds a certain charm that’ll resonate with new and old fans alike.
Special Features: Audio commentary with Brian Trenchard-Smith, Brian Kavanagh, Aphrodite Kondos & Mark Hartley, Extended Interviews from Not Quite Hollywood, The Depths of a Legend: looking back on Frog Dreaming (with Henry Thomas & Brian Trenchard-Smith), The Go Kids: Looking back on Frog Dreaming (with Rachel Friend & Tamsin West), The Dream Quest: Shooting locations revisited, Trailer, Image gallery.
FROG DREAMING / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: BRIAN TRENCHARD-SMITH / SCREENPLAY: EVERETT DE ROCHE / STARRING: HENRY THOMAS, RACHEL FRIEND, TAMSIN WEST, KATY MANNING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW