“Never stop looking for what’s not there.”
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Kenan Thompson, Virginia Madsen
Morgan Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a famous Western novelist whose passion for writing hits an impasse. He takes a lakeside cabin for the summer in picturesque Belle Isle, befriending the family next door–an attractive single mom (Virginia Madsen) and her young daughters–who help him find inspiration again.
Starring Morgan Freeman as
drunk Morgan Freeman the sporadically drunk Monte, a down an out author who has lost the meaning in his life, The Magic of Belle Isle is a sickly sweet drama from Rob Reiner of Stand by Me and This is Spinal Tap fame. If Stand by Me was Reiner’s coming of age story, The Magic of Belle Isle is his self-styled “re-coming of age” tale. The problem is, it’s nowhere near as interesting this time around.
Rather than the relatable group of kids on a journey of self discovery Reiner gave us in Stand by Me, we get a cantankerous Morgan Freeman ditched off by his nephew at the beautiful Belle Isle, his nephew being played by Keenan Thompson. Yes, that’s Keenan from Keenan and Kel (no, he’s not dead), and no, he serves no further purpose in the film other than to set Freeman’s Monte on his own personal journey of self discovery. It probably would have been best if he hadn’t.
Monte is apparently the kind of guy who has a profound affect on those he meets. His initial effect on me was off-putting, with one of his opening lines being “you don’t often see beautiful women on the roof”….yeesh. Over the course of the film we see him change from being grumpy and detached into a role model to three young girls and their mother. And who doesn’t want their children to be influenced by an alcoholic who threatens to shoot clowns at birthday parties?
Morgan Freeman does handle it all with his now standard charm and charisma, but the material he has to work with is littered with clichés and he’s certainly been better. It’s all just rather flat, meaning this is one grumpy old man with a heart of gold that won’t live long in the memories of cinema goers. There is a pretty great dog in it though, he’s called Spot, I could stand to see more of him….so that’s something, right?
The Magic of Belle Isle, a film which preaches that we should use our imagination whilst showing very little imagination of its own.
Rating (out of 5):