Where Hope Grows, I was skeptical at best. I recognized some of the cast, like Billy Zabka, Danica McKellar, and Kerr Smith, but I was worried about the storyline. Allow me to tell you a little bit about the movie.
The main character in the movie is Calvin Campbell. He is a former player of Major League Baseball who had a great deal of promise and was supposed to be amazing. Unfortunately, he grossly under-performed and didn't last long. This led to him developing a major drinking problem, which is a recurring theme in the movie. Calvin has a teenage daughter named Katie, whom he had in high school. It either doesn't say anything about the mother or it was said in passing and I missed it, but the mother is not present. The daughter is dating a HUGE jerk and that is putting it nicely. He is the big shot in high school and always gets his way. He also fulfills the stereotype that teenage boys only want one thing and tries to get that from Katie, whether she wants it or not. (I'll go ahead and spoil it for you that he doesn't, but that is a big reason this movie is rated PG-13.)
Calvin also has a best friend named Milton (played by Billy Zabka), who has a rocky marriage and a failing business. He and Calvin seem to be friends mainly because of their past, because most of the time you wonder why they are even friends. Billy Zabka is good at playing the villain (see Karate Kid), so he plays his role well, but knowing the premise of movies like this you know deep down that he will find some redemption. The real star of the movie is a boy nicknamed Produce. He is mentally-challenged and works in the produce department of the grocery store, hence the nickname. His personality is pure positive, and can best be described as infectious. Calvin meets him one day while grocery shopping and the two become a mixture of friend and father-son. There are times it seems that Calvin is a better father to Produce than his own daughter, so I had mixed feelings about that. Produce also has a deep love for God and we all know that one way or the other he is going to save Calvin, we just don't know how. There is more I can tell you about the movie, but I don't want to give up too much.
Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable movie. It is rated PG-13, but it is one of the tamest PG-13 movies I have ever seen. It has a religious message, but it doesn't beat you over the head like other movies, i.e. Flywheel or Fireproof. The acting was also believable and even though there were some seasoned actors in the mix, but David DeSanctis (Produce) stole the show! Judging from the outtakes in the credits, he seems to be that infectiously happy/positive in real life as well. The only knock I have against the movie is that I felt Milton's character and his story with his family wasn't as well-developed as it could have been. I know their story wasn't the main focus, but the lack of details were noticeable and knocked the movie down a peg. That criticism aside, I would still highly recommend it.
This movie was provided to me for free by Lionsgate. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!