The Magic of Belle Isle
by Phil Boatwright

Morgan Freeman, Virginia Madsen, Emma Fuhrmann, Madeline Carroll. Comedy/drama. Written by Guy Thomas. Magnolia Pictures. Directed by Rob Reiner. 109 min.

FILM SYNOPSIS: In an effort to tap into his original talent, a wheelchair-bound author moves to a rural town, where he befriends a single mother and her three daughters, who help reignite his passion for writing.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Morgan Freeman gives a fully realized portrait of a witty writer sitting on top of a damaged soul. He plays his character with dimension, humor and reality. Indeed, it probably wouldn’t be the great film it is if not for Mr. Freeman. But that’s not to take away from director Rob Reiner’s gifted leadership or the rest of the cast’s support.

It’s one of those films that magically came together and yet managed to slip by most moviegoers this past year. Bad marketing or maybe it was just overlooked in a summer full of caped crusaders. But now it’s on DVD and worthy of viewing as we see this central figure, as well as several other characters, finding revelation and salvation.

Though it is not a religious film, it does contain a form of spirituality. It reminds us that we find reason and purpose when we are open to the needs of others. Of course, our lasting peace comes through a relationship with Christ, which the film doesn’t deal with, but for those of us who follow Jesus, it is good to be reminded of what most pleases Him – our caring for those around us.

Not quite in the same league as To Kill a Mockingbird, still the picture contains a sort of father/daughter relationship, a nurturing one that leaves us uplifted and with a reminder to cherish those we sometimes take for granted.

Now on DVD, the disc contains bonus features, including a commentary with director Rob Reiner, Morgan Freeman, and Virginia Madsen. It is rated PG for one sexual innuendo, but there are no sex scenes, and for brief language including a man saying “Jesus H. Christ” and the phrase being repeated by a 9-year-old girl. She is corrected by her mother and never uses the blasphemous expression again. The scene reflects a good example of a parent correcting her child and encouraging her to use words correctly. Though profanity (the misuse of God’s name or Christ’s) is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, I wouldn’t mind children seeing this film, despite the two misuses of Christ’s name, because of the correction. I’d stop the disc and discuss with kids the need to use our Savior’s name with reverence, then continue on with the movie.