The name of this movie kept coming up when I was researching the movie, Do You Believe? which I saw at the theatre in the weeks leading up to Easter. It is an extremely plausible and heart-wrenching story of birth parents challenging a technicality to get back their son from the only family and life he has ever known, and the resulting trauma all the players are put through.
The birth parents (Barry Pepper as Rip, Mira Sorvino as Wendy), are eking out a bare existence in Ohio, and Rip has serious problems with alcohol and anger management. He is sent to prison for wife-battering and returns, rehabilitated, to his waiting wife who is willing to give him a second chance. Wendy, who found herself pregnant shortly after Rip’s incarceration, gave up their son for adoption, putting the child’s welfare above her own desires. By contrast, their son, Joey, is living an idyllic life in Florida with doting parents who happen to be extremely rich. It turns out that when Wendy took the papers to the prison to have them signed, someone else (a guard, probably) forged his signature, and now, Rip wants his son back. And so the nightmare begins.
Produced by Downes Brothers Entertainment, a Christian production company quickly gaining respect in the industry, the movie is based on the book of the same name by Karen Kingsbury, the screenplay explores the pitfalls in the system, as the Campbells (Cole Hauser & Kate Levering) try desperately to hold on to their son. The social worker (played by L. Scott Caldwell — The Net) was a very caring person who truly seemed to advocate for Joey while each of the other adults struggle with moral and legal issues.
While the acting was great, and the filming as well — it was easy to see the struggle on both sides (a real tear-jerker) — I have to say I found the movie a bit plodding at times. The scenes in Haiti, where the Campbells head with her sister’s church group, ostensibly as part of a ministry to help with housing and community service work, was an interesting component of the movie, and the acting by Maxwell Perry Cotton as Joey was excellent. Despite the somewhat slow pace, I would recommend it; just don’t be put off adoption it it’s something you’re considering. While this kind of post-adoption challenge does occur, it is infrequent. Definitely an adult movie; some scenes of violence. * * * *