Pauls Valley, Oklahoma —
The Internet streaming format has done a lot to bring convenience to us lazy movie fans, but I’ve found I can still occasionally discover hidden treasures at a video rental store. More often than not these discoveries are independent studio releases and while some are better left forgotten, the majority are at least as good if not better than the cash vacuum titles with all of the attention. Such was the case when I snagged this item of focus, yet to be fair it did have one of my favorite African American actors pasted on the cover. Still, this unknown not only fit into my previous statement, those watching with me were enamored as well with the potential of adding a permanent copy later on. “The Magic of Belle Isle” is for the most part an overcoming all odds feel good family flick and delivers a message one is never too weary to embrace. The story presented welcomes viewers to a rather crotchety western novel writer named Monte Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman), who has resigned himself to wasting away through his alcoholism. He would be well past rockbottom if it weren’t for his nephew Henry (Kenan Thompson), who has insisted on trying to rekindle his writing muse by taking him to a peaceful community called Belle Isle. Stubborn in spite of it all, he does a pretty good job of sticking to his drinking regimen until he comes across an attractive young woman named Charlotte O'Neil (Virginia Madsen) and her meddlesome kids. Two of these children Finnegan (Emma Fuhrmann) and Flora (Nicolette Pierini), seem determined to take up interfering with most of Monte’s time and before he realizes it, they are changing him in ways he never thought possible. While the plot can get a little sappy at times, it progresses at a pace that makes just about anyone watching a fan with character interactions worthy of award and praise. Sadly it probably does not somehow qualify for the big movie awards or will likely be ignored for a spot already guaranteed for nauseatingly artistic fare. However, I recommend it for all ages as another wholesome option with enough social commentary spice thrown in to make it interesting. The best part is by the time it is over you feel like you have been given a complete product with each minute appropriately used. I suppose the only thing that threw me is how well Freeman can carry himself, even when he is portraying someone who is drunk. It’s all good enough to earn a final verdict of four out of five elephants for “The Magic of Belle Isle.”
Movie rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.