Script: John Lee Hancock
Cast: Jae Head, Kathy Bates, Lily Collins, Quinton Aaron, Ray McKinnon, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw
Setting: Dorset, Florida, Texas, USA
I was a bit uncertain about this film. It sounded just a bit too heart-warming, as though it’d be full of overly sentimental “and everything works out in the end” stuff that makes me think of the flawed philosophy behind stories such as The Pursuit of Happyness you know the sort of victim blaming that says you wouldn’t be poor if only you tried harder.
Luckily enough this film is not like that. Okay, it has the heart-warming aspect. Heart-warming by the bucket-full. But it is told in such a way that you just can’t help but smile.
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a Sandra Bullock film so much. At her first voice-over line I winced, thinking that ott accent will drive me batty, but two seconds later I had almost forgotten about it and instead was enjoying the film. Her character is just wonderful. She butts her head into anywhere and everything. She is domineering and stubborn. But everything she does is in the best interest of those she loves. And she does it without nastiness, or pettiness. And she tries to help people, even total strangers like “Big Mike”. At first she just wants to offer him a lift, but when she realises his plight she takes him in, just for the night, a night that turns into forever.
And her husband is so obviously supportive and proud of her that it makes for an interesting dynamic. Usually in films this sort of female character would be relegated into either the “nice lady” or “bitch” role. She is neither.
You could describe this film as corny. You could say that it glosses over issues and doesn’t even scratch at the surface of things. You could say that the sporting scenes themselves were so OTT as to be unbelievable. But somehow none of those criticisms can dampen my enjoyment. It just put a big smile on my face, and sometimes, that is all you need from a film. And I’m sure that there are loads of issues to be raised over it’s portrayal of a white family “saving” a black teenager. But in counter to that, is based on a true story. I know that they have “Hollywoodised” plenty of the details, and I know nothing about the actual facts, but doesn’t the fact that it is based in truth have some impact on those criticisms?