The Magic of Belle Isle immediately snagged my interest with the description of a burned out author renewing his passion for writing. While I’m not burned out, I do sometimes find every excuse under the sun to not write, so it sounded interesting. There’s also the fact that I need some extra…something…to motivate me when I’d rather be napping, and I might have found it in this movie. Well… It might not work all the time, but I think it will work often enough to make it worthwhile to remember.
So what did I like about the story? For one thing it stars Morgan Freeman, who just happens to be one of my favorite actors, but I knew I was in for the duration when it started off with a scenic drive in a pickup truck…to the tune of Don’t Worry Baby. It also didn’t hurt that it got me to laugh less than four minutes after it started.
Mr. Freeman plays widowed, wheelchair-bound Monte Wildhorn, writer of westerns who gave up storytelling in exchange for alcohol after the death of his wife six years before. The tale begins with his arrival at the never-seen Dog Dave’s house, where he can live for the summer in exchange for dog-sitting Ringo, the only one of the Fab-4 that remains of Dave’s canine crew.
Kenan Thompson plays Monte’s nephew and, in my opinion, should have had a larger role. Still he made his too few and too brief appearances memorable.
A drunk or not, Mr. Wildhorn is a charmer, intelligent and well-mannered (usually, and depending on the company). Befriended by Dave’s neighbors, a soon-to-be divorced woman and her three daughters, as well as a special young man named Carl (who may be autistic), he is…oh…strongly encouraged – because of the aforementioned manners – to become involved in their lives.
I sat here with a smile on my face during most of the movie, though there were some laugh-out-loud moments, usually involving Monte and Ringo (renamed Spot), whose fetching skills are sadly lacking. There were also touching moments that brought tears to my eyes…and an ending that left me sitting here feeling glad I not only found the movie, but took the time to watch it.
Something that surprised me was the fact that this movie is also a love story. I really wasn’t expecting that, and as impossible as it seemed, it worked. As did the friendship Monte formed with the middle daughter, Finn. That alone would have made it worth the watch.
I gave it five stars on Netflix…and would have given it ten if that option had been available. The paltry 6.8 star average it has on IMDB makes me wonder about the I.Q.’s of some of the 5,822 people who took the time to rate it.
So anyway, if you like the kind of movie that will leave you smiling and happy that you had the good sense to watch it, The Magic of Belle Isle might just be what the doctor ordered.
Oh. What was the inspiration I mentioned earlier? Something Monte told the little girl. “Never stop looking for what’s not there.” I guess if you want to know what that means, you’ll have to visit Netflix.