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A Painted House
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Reviews & Ratings for
A Painted House (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Nicely done story of hard times in 1950s Arkansas

Author: vchimpanzee from NC
28 April 2003

In Arkansas during the Korean War, 10-year-old Luke Chandler lives with his parents and grandparents on a farm where cotton is the primary crop. To pick the cotton, the family must hire 'hill people' and Mexicans. The hill people do not get along particularly well with those who look down on them, and sometimes they get into fights. Hank Spruill is especially prone to getting in trouble. One day in the house, he makes demands of Luke and, figuring Luke looks down on him, points out that at least his house is painted, while to Luke's family, paint is a luxury. Later in the movie, part of the house has been mysteriously painted. The prime suspect is Hank's disabled brother Trot, who can't work in the fields.

Luke witnesses a fight Hank gets into that results in a death. He is afraid to tell the truth since Hank doesn't like him anyway, but the police officer who investigates appears satisfied with the explanation of self-defense. Hank's teenage sister appears to be falling for Luke at first, but later she is seen with Cowboy, one of the Mexicans, and Hank already despises Cowboy.

The hard life on the farm is made even worse by several weather events during the second half of the movie. The promise of better times ahead is suggested when Luke's cousin shows up in a brand new Buick (Luke has never even been in a car, only trucks). His spoiled rich wife can't believe people have to live like this and is horrified by having to use an outhouse (This was one of my favorite scenes; Kiersten Warren is so good in roles like this). Also, the whole town is excited by a new thing called television and the idea of actually being able to watch the World Series. Luke is a Cardinals fan, but he gives up his dream of a Cardinals jacket for something more important.

This is almost a family movie. There are two violent scenes that result in deaths (both witnessed by Luke; the second time, the person responsible threatens Luke's mother if he tells). People get into fights a lot in this environment, but the others are no big deal. Other possible red flags for parents: the birth of a child to an unwed mother, and the identification of a possible father. Other than these incidents, this movie could be acceptable viewing for the entire family.

This movie was well done, and I thought the performances by many of the actors were good. I especially liked Luke's grandfather, who could be stern but tender. Not everyone has an easy life, and those of us who had it too soft can learn a lot from a movie such as this.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Little House on the Cotton Fields

Author: Katz5 from Arlington, VA
6 November 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I read John Grisham's novel over the summer and have to say that this movie is just too watered down. The book was grittier and should have been made into a theatrical movie, instead of becoming "Hallmarkized." With the music, the stiff acting and the script, I felt like I was watching The Waltons or a certain Michael Landon/Melissa Gilbert '70s show. Nothing wrong with a family movie, but the book had more of an edge and I think was closer to Grisham's real life experiences than this watered down version. Examples (SPOILERS ALERT): 1. Hank's sudden source of income. In the book he earned it gambling and spent a lot of time at the carnival. In fact, the entire carnival/wrestler segment, which stood out in the book, is missing from the movie. 2. The conflict between Hank and Cowboy seemed staged and silly. Cowboy didn't have a "West Side Story"-like switchblade in the book, either. It was a large buck knife, as I remember. 3. Tally was barefoot, indicating the poverty level of the Spurills. She was not wearing Keds. 4. The segments in the book between Tally and Cowboy were a little more intimate than just embracing in the fields. 5. The Latcher subplot was just an aside. In the book, it is a lot more significant.

You get the point--this should have been a hard, PG-13 movie instead of a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation (which will probably get a PG on video as there is a little violence, albeit very muted). In fact the only reason I watched this was because of Scott Glenn, who was perfect as Pappy. Maybe they'll try it again, for the theater!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Lacks the intensity of the book, but a decent tale to watch.

7/10
Author: KMLBFL from Georgia
28 April 2003

Overall entertaining, but you will not find the movie as captivating as the book. I thought that the film was entertaining, but never delivered the emotion and punch that I felt while reading the novel. The Spruill characters were believable, but I had imagined Hank to be a larger and more menacing physical specimen than the movie portrayed.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Maybe sometimes, we forget

6/10
Author: Hot Potato from @ Chicago
24 February 2006

Maybe sometimes, we forget, with our plush life and current definition of "poverty", what things were like for rural "working poor" even as recently as the 50's. Survival, even for a man who owned the land, took a different strength of character. Is it good, or is it regretful those times have passed? More money yes, but were better times up North in the auto plants? I suppose, but this is nostalgia, and not bad either.

It was a good family movie, narrated like the Waltons, I kept waiting for "goodnight Luke-boy". Yah, Little House on the Prairie too, a bit more reality, but did other commenters really expect this to be as complete as the book, any book? Personally, I'm tired of hearing book-readers whine about "what they left out". Don't watch movies if you read the book.

This is certainly wandering reminiscences, but that's another type of literature too, isn't it? Why does every story have to be going somewhere special? To me it's a pretty good coming of age movie and worth the hour and a half at least, and always a pleasure watching Scott Glenn, when he gets good parts.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Different from all other Hallmark presentaions

Author: geja2001 from USA
28 April 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I did not read the novel upon which this film is based. Perhaps, A Painted House is a commentary on a real person's life, and all the incredible events shown are true. My comments concern the television film. **SPOILERS** This Hallmark production featured two men being killed, a young kid watching a teen-aged girl bathing in a creek, and two people, one a Mexican (or "wetback," as they were called in the film) and the other a "hill" girl running away northward -- hardly Hallmark fare. I did like the relationships between grandson and grandpa and between husband and wife, and their struggles to make a profit seemed real, especially on a cotton farm in 1950's Arkansas. The parts that seemed unreal were the mother's constant cheerfulness, the money spent on paint, the clean, clean loft conveniently vacated by the pickers to accommodate the displaced, poor family, and the absence of any farm pets. I liked their having no animals -- none to get hurt for dramatic purposes. Throughout the entire film I kept wondering: What is the plot? Does all this really occur in one season for a kid? And will Hallmark ever get all new adverts? And where is Ricky?

This film I shall not be purchasing. Hallmark is supposed to be Hallmark!

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

It didn't make it.

Author: Pistach from Ontario, Canada
28 April 2003

Basically the movie consisted of a few highlighted clips from the book. It failed to get across the essence of the book. In particular the sense of family and the desire and ability to help others regardless of economic status.

As I remember, hair was cut a lot shorter in 1952.

I'm sorry I watched the move as it destroyed the good memories that I had from the book.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Farm life through the eyes of a ten year old boy

8/10
Author: Howard Smith (csmith234) from Mesa, AZ
28 April 2003

I grew up in Memphis, TN. across the river from where this movie was made. I can relate to the farm life portrayed. I read the book by Grisham and was surprised to see the story line was followed so well by the movie. Not like some others such as "The Firm" by Grisham. The special effects were good (Tornado) and the scenes in town were very good. The local extras were well chosen. Another Hallmark production that deserves an "A".

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Excellent coming of age drama in the Arkansas cotton fields in 1952

10/10
Author: Mark Bruno (markevonne@sbcglobal.net) from Fremont, CA
28 April 2003

The story follows 10-year old Luke Chandler(Logan Lerman) in his experiences during the early 50's in Arkansas. Luke experiences murder, love, childbirth, flooding cotton fields, a Mexican labor camp, and the breaking up of two families. Although shown on TV on April 27, 2003, if it is re-broadcast on television or released on DVD, this would definitely be worth your while to watch. The most touching scenes are the ones showing bonding between Luke and his grandfather "Pappy"(Scott Glenn). Robert Sean Leonard plays Luke's father.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Kind of a non-story

6/10
Author: aileen_588 from Canada
28 April 2003

Overall, it was an ok made for t.v movie. The acting was good, and there was nothing particularly wrong with the cinematography. The only problem was the story line. It goes from here to there with nothing to tie it together in between. The movie also comes with a rather un-satisfying ending. But if you are at home one night with nothing else to do it is an enjoyable-enough two hours.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Two Hours To Go Nowhere

2/10
Author: mcheiten from United States
2 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"A Painted House" is a disappointment in many ways. Some of the criticisms found in these reviews correctly point to the fact that Luke, the young protagonist of the movie who is seemingly based on the author John Grisham, never seems to change much in the course of the movie, even though he has witnessed a murder, an attempted murder, a threatened murder, and the total destruction of his family's crops. Still, as played by Logan Lerman, he maintains the same spacey, innocent look throughout, hardly growing at all even though what he has witnessed might well have shaken him profoundly.

The movie also leaves us with a slew of loose ends, almost as if it was designed exclusively to fit into a TV time slot. So, we never know if Luke's uncle comes back from the Korean War, we never know if the police solve Hank's murder or even how Hank's family reacts to his disappearance, we never find out whether anything can save the farm that Luke's mother and father abandon, and we certainly never find out how Luke and his family make out in the North — a part of the country that this poor Southern family seems to hate.

But the worst aspect of this movie flows from the only really endearing part of the movie: the very touching relationship between the 10-year-old Luke and the late teenager Tally. It is charming to watch the development of that relationship: Tally seems to think that Luke is cute, while Luke develops a crush on this beautiful young woman – obviously the first romantic feeling that young Luke has ever had. It is doubtless very sad for him when Tally runs off to marry the hot-blooded Cowboy.

But that is the problem: Luke has witnessed Cowboy kill Hank, and Hank is Tally's brother. Why in the world would a 10-year-old kid not react much more intensely to his first young love running off with the man who murdered her brother? Would he not have tried to stop her? If he couldn't, would he not at least have been tortured by the thought of her going off with a murderer? Instead, Luke simply tells his grandfather what he has seen and then they decide, with almost no emotion, that it would be better not to tell anyone about the murder. End of story.

It is hard to think of a less realistic and less emotionally satisfying ending to the movie — perhaps a perfect ending to a bland, emotionless movie which takes two listless hours to go absolutely nowhere.

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