|Index||8 reviews in total|
The movie is the story of Abraham Jakob Lee, an adopted Korean child. His
father, Hubert T. Lee, owns and operates the largest drive-in theater, The
Flamingo, located on the eastern shores of North Florida. It sits next to
Turner Knight's funeral parlor/house. Hubert and Turner feud over the
Flamingo, while Abraham falls for Turner's daughter, Grace.
Brian Benben (as Hubet), received third billing, yet carries the film with
As goes with most movies based on novels, the book was better. The author, Larry Baker, admitted that he was not pleased with the screenplay. The screenplay certainly lacked depth, but what's new with TV movies?
Some of the characters names were changed. The author was not happy, but he said the writers couldn't get permission from people of the same names. The Knights names were changed from the Wests. Abraham's middle name in the book was Isaac.
The movie was also cleaned up since it was a Hallmark production. There was plenty of sexual interaction between the kids who worked at the movie theater which also would have provided a better understanding of why Abe and Alice were close. There was also NO smoking on the set, which is ironic since it was 1968.
The movie was shot on location in Marineland and St. Augustine. (Marineland is a city in Flagler County, FL, and has a park of the same name.)
The 3-4 movies a year that gain the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" sponsorship never fail to deliver, and Flamingo Rising was one of the better efforts lately. This is a feel-good show that recaptures a look and feel and style while beautifully intertwining humor, pathos, the family unit and the American work ethic. From the Korean orphans to the Fourth of July accident to the stunning conclusion, the creators offered one memorable scene after another. And, somewhat rare for a TV movie, Flamingo Rising had terrific visuals. Brian Benben is the driving force, and is excellent as the drive-in theater owner who achieves his dreams in nearly every way -- for a time. Stephen Larkin as his son gives a sympathetic but firm performance. William Hurt, kept too far in the background some of the time, is excellent in a low-key role. But the star of the show is Elizabeth McGovern, the conscience and rock of the family who becomes everyone's friend and confidant. Hollywood very very seldom gives us something that veers so far from its apparent destination. And it almost never reflects life's highs and lows as perfectly as was done in this movie.
Having read the novel that the film was based on, I found the film a very superficial and watered down version of the story. As with all 'first person' narratives the inner voice of the book is lost, thus taking away a lot of the passion and intensity of the original. The importance of the role of Alice is lost and the loss of the sexual aspect of the story dilutes the tension and southern steaminess.
Poor Larry Baker, after viewing "The Flamingo Rising" it is easy to see
why he was so disappointed with this screenplay adaptation of his
novel. Rather than an effective and efficient visual condensation of
book, the film is more like what would result if a film company ran out
of money in mid-production (with a third of the scheduled scenes still
to be shot) and just assembled the available stuff into a plausible
sequence. Unfortunately, the missing third contained many scenes that
explain what is happening.
This film might only be intelligible to Baker's readers, who can at least fill in the blanks with what they already know. They might also enjoy comparing and contrasting the film's visuals with how they pictured those things while reading the book.
Non-readers will find it a strange viewing experience. You almost immediately know that it is an adaptation and not just a really disjointed original screenplay. It has a lot of interesting and well-written characters, some deep philosophical thoughts, solid acting, some relatively big names in the cast, and a charming quirkiness. But all of these elements seem incomplete and inadequately connected. By the end both readers and non-readers will be thinking: "wow-somebody sure butchered that adaptation".
Brian Benden plays Hubert Lee, a white American sergeant who returns from the Korean War with two Korean infants. The war changed Hubert and his peacetime goal is to embrace life and to place a barrier between himself and death. This goal becomes especially challenging when he opens a Drive-in Theater (The Flamingo) across the street from a funeral home run by widower William Hurt.
Their relationship is a symbolic conflict between life and death with Lee's wife Edna (Elizabeth McGovern) literally and figuratively bridging the chasm between the two men.
The story is narrated by Hubert's adopted son Abraham Isaac (Abe) and falls into the coming-of-age genre. The film seems to be set in the summer of 1968 as the drive-in screen (the world's largest even visible to shrimp boats off shore) shows "The Graduate" and "Night of the Living Dead" among others. The family lives inside the structure that supports the screen.
Abe soon falls in love with his neighbor's daughter setting up a Romeo Capulet-Juliet Montague dynamic, referenced once and then forgotten. Which is pretty much the fate of all the meaningful and symbolic elements found in the book, they are either inserted without adequate explanation or omitted entirely. Which means that very little of the book's humor makes it to the screen.
Angela Bettis plays Alice, an employee of the drive-in who was originally intended to be important to Abe's coming of age. But her character has been so haphazardly reduced that she serves little purpose other than providing a chance see this talented actress in one of her early roles.
Screenwriters adapting a novel are faced with the need to trim a vast amount to material to get under a 100 minute running time. Narrative can be condensed, eliminated, or translated to visual images. The trick is not so much whether something is kept or eliminated, but whether what remains provides sufficient coverage of the source material's themes. A novel with the convoluted interplay of "The Flamingo Rising" presents a considerable challenge and unfortunately the screenwriter was simply not up to the task.
Bottom line, "The Flamingo Rising" can be a horrible viewing experience for the unprepared reader, but can be a satisfactory one if forewarned and expectations vastly lowered. While it is not unpleasant viewing for a non-reader, they will have little reason to reflect on the theme and will be left to simply wonder why they bothered to watch.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
I had hopes that "The Flamingo Rising" would be a "black comedy" of outrageous eccentrics trying to out annoy each other along the lines of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi in "Neighbors". The added interest of a gigantic drive in theater and a funeral parlor replacing two adjacent houses, only made the ground more fertile for dark comedy. Unfortunately my expectations were not met, because "The Flamingo Rising" has a severe identity crisis, and is a real mixed bag of underdeveloped characters and concepts. The bag includes feuding neighbors, teenage romance, marital drama, 50s nostalgia, religious guilt, and tragedy. This total mish-mash leads to a fatal identity crisis, and certainly a missed opportunity for the "black comedy" I was anticipating. - MERK
FLAMINGO RISING is about two Florida families: the Lees, who own a drive-in theater, and the Knights, who own a funeral parlor across the street. Hubert Lee (Brian Benben) and Turner Knight (William Hurt) are constantly at odds while Lee's young son and Knight's equally young daughter are falling for each other. Lee's long-suffering wife (Liz McGovern) tries to keep the peace. Along comes the Judge (Kevin O'Connor) who likes to fly biplanes, and Lee puts him to use promoting the drive-in, much to the consternation of Knight. Things get considerably worse before they get better, and since this is based on a novel, not everything nor everyone turns out OK. At the end, my wife turned to me and said, "What was the point of all that?" I confess I wondered myself. RISING is well-acted, especially by the flamboyant Benben, and well-directed by Martha Coolidge, but by the end, I suspect most people will be wondering why they spent two hours watching it.
Even though the subject matter of this film was appealing, the terribly
shallow character portrayals and almost cartoonish-plot & characters
was just appalling.
The subject matter was far too SERIOUS for the goofy way in which these characters--especially the adults--were portrayed. The father, the undertaker, the mother, and the airplane pilot all acted mostly like caricatures--buffoons. The kids seemed to have more smarts and sensitivity than the adults in this picture.
Another thing that was a big turnoff was the constant HARPING about the so-called "glories of adoption" vs. biological families. Doesn't Hallmark EVER get tired of this dreary theme and clearly-political nonsense? They're as bad as ABC & BahBah Wah-Wah (Barb Walters) with their relentless cramming adoption down the throats of viewers. It sure gets old.
The subject matter in this film should have been handled with more dignity and less lunacy. The ending was especially ridiculous...
This movie was disappointing for all the above reasons.
I will start by saying I didn't catch the first part of the movie, so there may be something in that part that changes the tone of the movie. As for the part I saw, it was at the least intriguing. Part of me wished they had explored the relationship between the boy and his neighbor/schoolmate more, yet that would be expecting something more from the movie than what it was. This being a pet-peeve of mine, regarding movies, I shall not succumb to it! *L* There is also the fact that this movie was based on a book, which I guess they did follow to a certain extent (thankfully!). The ending was..... something of a remarkable nature- and as I just finished watching it, I am not really sure what to say about it. Of course, I'd want to be careful of what I said anyway, to not spoil it for those who have yet to watch it. In any case, I guess I will leave it at that. Poor review? I guess so. I think that this movie is worth a watch, and can definitely bring up some topics for discussion with a good friend or the family. If you'll take the time and effort to do so. ~ELB~
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