The Black Balloon is a mid-teen, coming-of-age drama. Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) is desperate to fit in and meet girls at his new school in Sydney, but he suffers embarrassment about his autistic brother Charlie who he wishes was just like normal kids. A budding romance with attractive and spirited Jackie (Gemma Ward), who is on his swimming class, helps Thomas learn about acceptance and worth. As a slice of life in a crazy, loving family, it's a slight film but enjoyable, thanks especially to excellent performances by Toni Collette as the devoted and workaholic, pregnant mum and Erik Thomson as the military dad who takes advice from a teddy bear. The pretty stars look older than their parts, but this has the authentic feel of someone's personal story.