Nanacha Wily Child
I missed out on a lot of classic kid movies while living in Thailand (I didn’t see The Sandlot until three years ago) but in exchange I grew up watching Nanacha Wily Child (นานาช่า) on repeat with the other kids in my rural Thai neighborhood. Our family initially heard about it because another missionary kid we knew was cast as the American kid at the fancy international school where the movie takes place.
Nanacha has all the hallmarks of the best childhood adventure movies: the “new kid” protagonist (in this case, a hill tribe boy sent away after accidentally setting fire to his village), obnoxious teachers barely keeping the school under control, the popular kid being a bully (here, it’s the football-obsessed expat kid, a walking American stereotype), kidnapping plots, schematics built out of random toys, makeovers, fake beards, young romance and the whole squad walking in slow motion.
I managed to find it streaming on YouTube and the filmmaking was way worse than I remembered (this was the director’s first and only film, as far as I can tell) but just as hilarious and heartwarming with its story of friendship and acceptance despite differences. I’m so glad I happened to be growing up in Thailand right at the time this movie became popular. Hopefully I can track down a copy with English subtitles so I can share it with you, too.