"Flying" (aka "Teenage Dream") looks to be another one of those '80s feel-good movies using the same tired premise of a main character overcoming adversity and achieving their dreams- and essentially, it is exactly that. While the story is predictable, there are lots of other things thrown in that were very unexpected of such a movie.
Main character Robin is a girl in high school who has a love of gymnastics. Her loving father, also her gymnastics coach, dies in a car crash (this is off-screen and presumably takes place a few years before the film begins) and Robin severely injures her knee in the crash, greatly dampening her gymnastic abilities and forcing her to start training from the ground up. As if this alone wasn't enough to make you root for the underdog, her mother marries a mean brute, presumably to make ends meet, and she must switch schools and move in with him and his daughter (also all takes place before film begins) Not only that, both Robin and her mother work in sweatshop-like conditions in his dry-cleaning business every day, and her mother is also exhausted and sick. At night, Robin goes into some abandoned warehouse (?) with a policeman (?) and practices gymnastics. To top off her depressing life, she helps out with the gymnastics team, who are all snobby and mean to her, except for one, a charming girl who is a good friend but has her own problems as well (starving herself to lose weight)
Things do start to look up for Robin, however. After seeing her abilities, the coach adds her to the team, and picks her and two others to compete in an important competition. Keanu Reeves, in the very early days of his career, shines as her dorky friend Tommy and later her boyfriend, whom Robin initially ignored in favor of a preppy boy who, of course, doesn't like her back.
Good times do not last long, for as soon as things are going good, Robin's mother dies. Showing almost no emotion about that, Robin almost immediately goes off and has sex with her boyfriend (though they are only shown undressing each other) This was unexpected as well, as only a short while before, Tommy had given up on her and was ignoring her. She has comfort in her friend and in Tommy, and (of course) wins the competition- THE END.
Was this an amazing film? Of course not. But if you like a good cheesy '80s flick every once in a while, you'll get all the nostalgic trademarks: big hair, dancing scenes with pop music and boomboxes, training montages, girls in legwarmers, etc.
The acting is not great, it's campy, and there are some weird undertones. Olivia d'Abo, who plays Robin, was only 15 at the time of filming, yet there are enough close-up shots of her butt and breasts in tight tank tops to make you feel uncomfortable. Keanu Reeves, pre-stardom, is very likable and believable in his role. There is also the minor token black character, in the form of the trustworthy groovy dancing cop. Olivia d'Abo's use of a stunt double for all of the gymnastics scenes is outrageously obvious, and she is somewhat unbelievable in her role as the (quirky?) Robin. It also should be noted that Reeves was 20 and d'Abo was 15, playing a couple. However, he is so kind and cute and their short scene in bed was about the most sweet and loving thing i've ever seen in a movie, to be honest. They even wash the sheets together afterwards- I mean come on. On the other hand, there was a very strange scene in which Robin intently watches Tommy, biting her lip, as he dumps a bunch of onions and toppings on their street vendor hot dogs. Three seconds later, they are shown French kissing. (???Ew???)
Yeah, it's a bad movie, but it's a campy, guilty pleasure, if only for Reeves's very youthful charisma, and it's one you will probably get made fun of for if somebody catches you watching it.