This is a by-the-numbers kind of TV movie about a cranky widower (Griffith) with a heart condition, his daughter (Brown) that he has issues with, his beloved grandson who dies, and the runaway girl (Burnette) with a dark secret, whose appearance on the scene re-connects the emotional dots for one-and-all.
The Good: Griffith is always appealing, especially when you know his cranky act will fade as the story progresses. Burnette is a cute little thing and a natural. She's also the age of the character, so we don't have some late-twentyish actor playing a seventeen-year-old. Brown is fine, too, especially since she gets almost all of the toughest emotional scenes. Also, the idea that a desperate runaway finds refuge in the Mayberry-like setting is appealing. Griffith and Burnette work well together.
The Bad: Griffith is much too agile for an old man with a recently transplanted heart. He even tackles a character in the finale! Before the film is twenty minutes old he's gone from heart condition to transplant and out of the hospital without so much as a scene or mention of a follow-up visit or medication or anything related to such a huge procedure. It's treated as if he had his appendix out! And his cranky attitude toward Burnette's character would have been better if played longer. Sure it's sweet Andy, but the antagonism between the two plays so well and realistically... it would've been so much stronger when Griffith finally realized he really needs the kid in his life. And the issues between Griffith and Brown, when revealed, are clichés. Strangely, their bland emotional issues are handled more dramatically than when Burnette's dark secret is revealed, which is far more powerful, yet treated almost indifferently, with a quick tsk-tsk windup. But, all and all, it's just a sentimental TV movie, so no need to really carp.
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