Windcatcher, Stan review: fun family film with Jessica Mauboy

Running, family, ghosts ... and wind of more than one kind – this fast-moving Australian film smells like a winner.

The big selling point for Windcatcher is that it’s the return of Jessica Mauboy to movies after The Sapphires 12 years ago and yes, she’s a big talent who we haven’t seen enough of on our screens. But that’s a hook to get adults watching, and this is a movie for kids. So here’s what kids need to know: if you watch this all the way to the end, someone lets off a massive fart. Best Australian film of 2024? Sure smells like it.

Percy Boy Collins (Lennox Monaghan) likes to run. A lot. That’s why he’s getting up at quarter to five in the morning. He needs a new pair of sneakers (named Terminal Velocity – ‘it’s the grip that lets you rip’), and he’s earning the cash by helping out at a local farm. Or rather, he was. Today’s his last day, because there’s a big race at his school and the prize (a $50 voucher) is all he needs to get his savings across the line.

That might be enough story for most movies aimed at pre-teens, especially once Percy Boy loses the race (thanks to his shoddy sneakers) to the school bully and teams up with new kid Keithy Cobb (Max Turner) and natural born coach Daisy Hawkins (Coco Greenstone) to train for the upcoming Athletics Carnival. One problem: no shoes.

The trio have various schemes to raise the money for Percy Boy’s sneakers, including selling scrap, stealing fruit, running a lemonade stand, and kidnapping a gnome for ransom (they might have gone a little far with that one). It’s all good solid material for a lightweight kids movie. But Percy Boy’s home life is a different story.

His parents aren’t on the scene, for reasons he doesn’t want to talk about. He’s living with his two aunts, Aunty Cressida (Jessica Mauboy) and the not-quite-all-there Aunty Prue (Lisa Maza), who’s obsessed with her long gone cockatoo Crackers. His grandfather, aka Pop (Kelton Pell) is also around to dispense wisdom like ‘your running is a gift – you just have to learn to use it to run towards solutions instead of away from problems’.

He also sees ghosts because, oh yeah, ghosts are real and Percy Boy can see them too. One of the things Percy Boy is running away from is his duty to help guide ‘lost souls’, though exactly what that entails is a bit of a mystery. And while it might seem obvious how this ties in to Percy Boy’s other problems, Windcatcher doesn’t take the easy way out.

Natural fit

It’s one of the strengths of this film that it manages to make these two very different plot strands feel like a natural fit with each other. There’s a few moments where the tone doesn’t quite work – there’s a moment of magic realism towards the end involving an aerodynamically improbable car door that comes out of nowhere – but overall the whole thing hangs together well.

Windcatcher. Image: Stan.

A lot of that is thanks to the excellent performance from future star Monaghan, whose charm and charisma is more than enough to effortlessly overcome any shaky moments in the film itself. Turner is a solid foil as the more sensitive and thoughtful sidekick, and Greenstone gives Daisy the kind of iron determination that’s both funny and a little bit scary.

At not much over 75 minutes this doesn’t outstay its welcome, but it’s more a case of deliberate brevity than running out of things to say. Time and again Windcatcher makes its point and moves on; storylines that might have been an entire film, or even just a meaty subplot, get a few scenes at most.

Seems it’s not just Percy Boy Collins who likes to move fast.

Windcatcher premieres on Stan on 28 March.


4 out of 5 stars


Jessica Mauboy, Lennox Monaghan , Max Turner, Coco Greenstone, Pia Miranda, Lisa Maza


Tanith Glynn-Maloney

Format: Movie

Country: Australia

Release: 28 March 2024

Anthony Morris is a freelance film and television writer. He’s been a regular contributor to The Big Issue, Empire Magazine, Junkee, Broadsheet, The Wheeler Centre and Forte Magazine, where he’s currently the film editor. Other publications he’s contributed to include Vice, The Vine, Kill Your Darlings (where he was their online film columnist), The Lifted Brow, Urban Walkabout and Spook Magazine. He’s the co-author of hit romantic comedy novel The Hot Guy, and he’s also written some short stories he’d rather you didn’t mention. You can follow him on Twitter @morrbeat and read some of his reviews on the blog It’s Better in the Dark.