What It's About
An inspiring true story about Zach Bonner, who began a philanthropic mission at age 8 to see it become a big deal. Zach initially collects relief items for victims of Hurricane Charley in his home state of Florida. Witnessing the plight of homeless youth first-hand, that's where he pours in all his efforts. The kid's a living testament to the power of one individual, and the movie's told in a straightforward manner.
Kid actors Chandler Canterbury (Zach) and Dylan Matzke (Jim Craig) are convincing and natural, but Daveigh Chase (Kelley Bonner) is annoying as the rebellious, whiny, selfish teenage sister. Every time she throws a hissy fit, it's like nails on a chalkboard.
Anna Gunn ("Breaking Bad") anchors the film as Zach's proud widowed mom, and she's a bright spot. Frances O'Connor is heart-wrenching as a widowed single mom who falls through society's cracks and winds up homeless and hopeless.
Director David Anspaugh ("Rudy," "Hoosiers") knows how to wring sentiment from a story about ordinary folks who do something extraordinary. Zach's cause is worthy and his determination to help others is what draws you to the story. The film is obviously overflowing with good intentions.
What Doesn't Work
Patrick Sheane Duncan ("Mr. Holland's Opus") has written a script that seems to borrow every motivational cliche in the book. He doesn't bring anything new to this film -- a standard tale that includes family squabbles, bravery, doubters and triumph. The parallel homeless mother-and-son plot seems hokey and staged to wring tears from a tough crowd. With a family-friendly label, this is precisely the kind of movie that decent folks love to champion but cynics love to dismiss.
2 1/2 stars
Director: David Anspaugh
Starring: Anna Gunn, Chandler Canterbury, Frances O'Connor, Daveigh Chase, Dylan Matzke