It’s 11:02 am
sunny but only 10 degrees
We are in a deep freeze here in SE Michigan. The high temperatures have been averaging between 10 to 17 degrees for about 10 days now and no warm up is seen for at least another week. The good news is that being this cold,it won’t snow at least.
So what better time then to watch a movie that is set in……..Canada?? Sure,why not?
It is winter after all and who wants to think about a hot warm summer movie?
One of the hardest film genres to hunt is the “family film”. You would think it would among the most simple things to shop for and yes,it is. You can walk into any box store like Walmart or even Netflix and find family films. But finding a GOOD one,aye,that is the rub,isn’t it? During the past 18 months,I must say I have become rather good at it. I have found my fair share of excellent films that a family can sit and watch together.
Not to say I’ve been always so lucky,I have picked out a couple that were surprisingly bad (“Under the Mountain”,I’m looking at you.).
“The Journey Home” was a blind buy,I picked it up for a dollar and for the cast which includes Goran Visnjic,whose role as Dr. Luka Kovac on “ER” was my favorite and the always beautiful Bridget Moynahan of “Blue Bloods” fame. I felt confident that I had picked up a winner,was I right? Read on……
“The Journey Home” opens in Devon,Canada and shows a mother polar bear and her cub coming into the town in search of food in the middle of the night.
We then meet 14 yr old Luke who is saying good-bye to mother,a scientist who is leaving on a research trip. Luke and his sister are being left under the care of their Aunt Rita who has agreed to stay and watch the kids. Luke’s mom tell him be on his best behavior before leaving and Luke makes the promise.
That night Luke (Dakota Goyo) is in his bedroom when he hears a noise outside,Luke goes to investigate . He sees the police dart the mother polar bear,the police chief has compassion on the bear despite the fact she has been a repeat offender and by right could be killed. But he tells Luke that they will transport the bear back to Point Resolute.
After the police and game warden leave,Luke notices slight damage to the garage and slowly goes inside to explore. It is then what he finds the small cub. The cub is only a few weeks old and needs it’s mother. Luke decides to keep it safe overnight and then take it to the game warden in the morning. The cub is quite cute and frisky and Luke enjoys its company,after playing with the cub,he falls asleep.
The next morning the two are awaken by a helicopter,the mama bear is being relocated to Mt. Resolute far earlier then Luke had thought. He knows he can’t take the cub in now,it would only be raised and donated to a zoo and Luke hates that idea.
He takes his snowmobile to the one person he both respects and is wary of,the guide Muktuk (Goran Visnjic). Muktuk knows the land better then anyone but blamed for an accident that killed Luke’s father who also was Muktuk’s best friend.
Luke asks for help returning the cub to its mother but Muktuk discourages Luke explaining how dangerous a trip like that would be. Luke gets angry and storms off,leaving both his snowmobile and the cub behind. Muktuk gives him a ride home as the town is 10 miles away.
Having recovered his snowmobile,Luke also takes the cub and heads towards Mt. Resolute. His sister and Aunt Rita find out and alert the sheriff who advise them to contact Muktuk,who Rita blames for her brother’s death.
Muktuk gears up and starts after Luke who has an hour head start on him.
The ice is very thin in places and Luke crashes and falls into the water,losing everything but the cub. He is close to dying when Muktuk spots him. Too far from town for help,Muktuk takes him to a native Canadian village in order to save Luke’s life. It is there that Muktuk agrees to help Luke return the cub.
But the trip ahead is fraught with even more dangers and when Luke and Muktuk become separated in a huge storm that leaves Luke stranded on a broken piece of floating ice,things look extremely dire for the two young friends.
And with Luke’s mother(Bridget Moynahan) flying in to find out how this happened,time is of the utmost importance because the weather is worsening…..
So yes,we did really liked this movie,it had a real edge to it. It played the story true and didn’t put any Hollywood “cute” moments in it. Credit goes to director Roger Spottiswoode for helming a excellent adventure story and rooting it in reality.
Spottiswoode is a veteran director who best be known for directing the wonderful “Turner and Hooch” back in 1989. At 73 years old,he is still sharp behind the camera and delivers a great movie here.
My highest praise has to be for young Dakota Goyo who played the headstrong Luke who wants to save the cub. He has tremendous empathy for the cub because he knows what is like to lose a parent and it has very hard for him. His willingness to brave the unknown despite knowing the risks comes across as heartfelt and not a act of rebellion.
He has to carry much of the movie and just like another fine young actress,Ella Ballentine,he makes it appear easy. And with a rugged on location shoot on top of it,he is just outstanding.
Goran Visnjic as Muktuk is also outstanding as the guide who carries a tremendous secret in his heart and a sense of love and loyalty to Luke. The haunted look in his when has to tell Luke’s mother that Luke is lost,will bring tears to your eyes.
The bear cub was played by two different real polar bears and yes,they were very cute. It’s easy to forget that polar bears are basically grizzly bears with white fur.
“The Journey Home” is rated “PG” and has a run time of 98 minutes.
You can buy a copy of this film by going to the RLJ Entertainment website here.
The cheetah and I gave “The Journey Home” two thumbs/4 paws straight up.
What recent family films have you watched? Leave a comment below and tell us so maybe the cheetah and I check them out as well….