It seems like this would be the type of movie that we'd see at Wal-Mart and ask ourselves why we hadn't heard of it before, but then realizing it's because it was a straight-to-DVD release. This isn't that movie. It's still a little cheesy at parts, but it gets down to business and commits to its themes all the way.
There may be a lot of subplots, but they all connect with each other and don't ever feel forced. There's also no unrealistic antagonists (or bullies) that are typical of these family films, and there's no unnecessary love story to evoke our most vulnerable senses. The filmmakers are so aware of themselves and so careful not to make us roll our eyes that we can't help but be gracious.
Although the message is pretty much laid out on the table, it preaches them in a ways that we can all relate to. It reassures us that everything happens for a reason, and teaches us how we can take our misfortune and use it to help others instead of worrying about what it's hindering us from doing.
The two young leads do a great job with this one--especially Nathan Gamble who grasps his character's juxtaposition of character and does well showing us how he develops throughout the film.
I've said it before that there is a shortage of non-animated family films these days. This is one of the best ones from recent years.
Twizard Rating: 90