On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE (Magnolia).
THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE
Never stop looking for what’s not there.
By Britt Bensen
See clips of THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE & more movies on demand via The Movie Loft: Quicktake...
As we watched Morgan Freeman (THE UNFORGIVEN, DRIVING MISS DAISY) receive the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award from the Golden Globes® in January, I’m sure we were all wondering when would we see the next solid Morgan Freeman movie performance? Not all of his roles are great (whose are?), but he’s one of today’s actors who when you see or hear his name mentioned with a movie, you take a little extra notice. Who doesn’t like Morgan Freeman?
I was curious when I first learned THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE, a Rob Reiner movie starring Freeman, was being released on demand today (Friday, June 1), a full month before in theaters (July 6). The last film they did together, THE BUCKET LIST (with Jack Nicholson) grossed $93 million domestically and $175 million worldwide. Not too shabby. The second highest grossing film to A FEW GOOD MEN.
Morgan Freeman / THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE (Magnolia Pictures)
The next thing I wanted to know was whether THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE would feature Freeman’s narration? He speaks first on screen at the 2:30 minute mark while his character Monte Wildhorn (I’m going to guess he’s loud & boisterous with a last name like that) is being driven to a new home in a new lakeshore town for the summer by his nephew Henry (played by SNL’s Kenan Thompson). Apparently Monte has seen better days.
We’re next greeted by his neighbors. Charlotte O’Neill (Virginia Madsen), a single mother and her three young daughters. The movie’s dialogue quickly establishes itself in the cinematic comedic styling of do as I say, not as I do. Virginia tells her youngest (Flora) to not waste water (pre fire) after learning Finneagan, the precocious middle daughter, splashed Willow, the disinterested oldest child, with water. And then playfully sprays her from the hose.
Morgan Freeman, Emma Fuhrmann / THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE (Magnolia Pictures)
As Monte bristles at being helped into his wheelchair from the truck to the home next door (yup, he’s loud), his ire catches the attention of O’Neill’s. As they venture over to look, Charlotte advises her daughters that “it is not polite to stare.” Of course they look back (accompanied by a twang of a guitar score). The movie is written by Guy Thomas whose previous film screenplay credit dates back to 1980’s WHOLLY MOSES, starring Dudley Moore and James Coco. Wholly Moses that is a long time ago!
I will say at this point, the movie wants us to dislike Monte (so he can start low and rise above), but give him, the movie (and this review) a chance...
Monte begrudgingly enters the small cottage (apparently it is free) and demonstrates he is an alcoholic by demanding Henry get him a mid-day (mid-morning?) drink. Henry hands him a full bottle, sans glass and then brings in Monte’s old classic typewriter (or as Monte calls her: “a black-hearted whore. And he’s done with her.”). We learn of Monte’s paradox as a former published writer of western novels after hearing a phone message from his agent leads to Henry’s encouragement him to respond:
Monte: Nobody cares about a writer nobody reads.
Henry: Nobody reads you because you don’t write.
Without caring for anyone or being cared about, Monte's drinking is getting in the way.