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The Magic of Belle Isle (2012)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 6 July 2012 (USA)
2:27 | Trailer

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Monty Wildhorn, an alcoholic novelist of Westerns, has lost his drive. His nephew pushes him to summer in quiet Belle Isle. He begrudgingly befriends a newly single mom and her 3 girls who help him find the inspiration to write again.



1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Fire Captain
Carl Loop
Al Kaiser
Karen Loop
Christopher McCann ...
Bookstore Owner
Lucas Caleb Rooney ...
Clown (as Lucas Rooney)
Luke Ford


Monty Wildhorn, an alcoholic novelist of Westerns, has lost his drive. His nephew pushes him to summer in quiet Belle Isle. He begrudgingly befriends a newly single mom and her 3 girls who help him find the inspiration to write again.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Re-Coming of Age Story


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements and language including some suggestive comments | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

6 July 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Summer at Dog Dave's  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,367, 8 July 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$100,910, 2 September 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In a 2012 Huffington Post interview with Virginia Madsen, Madsen pointed out that despite Morgan Freeman's nearly half-century-long career in movies, she is the first actress ever to have an on-screen romantic love story with any character he has played. See more »


In the store, the number of Slim Jim packets changes suddenly from one to two and back to one. See more »


[first lines]
Monte Wildhorn: What's all that crap on the windshield?
Henry: It's ash from the fire.
Monte Wildhorn: This is where you're bringing me?
Henry: It's rent free.
Monte Wildhorn: Before or after it burns down?
See more »


References Happy Days (1974) See more »


Don't Worry Baby (Original Version)
Written by Roger Val Christian, Douglas Wilson
Performed by The Beach Boys
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Shallow pseudo-inspirational movie, but it could have been worse.
20 December 2012 | by See all my reviews

The Magic of Belle Isle is one of those supposedly inspirational movies where a lonely character who has been embittered by life's misfortunes gets his lost hopes back through an accidental encounter that changes his life. In this particular case, the character is a wheelchair-ridden western book writer who hasn't written anything in ages and is plagued by alcoholism. The sparks that reignites his life are befriending a smart 9-year old girl and falling in love with her mom. The fact that the aged writer is Morgan Freeman (aged 75) and the mom is Virginia Madsen (aged 50) makes the relationship odd if not creepy, but teary-eyed audiences have seen and forgiven far worse the that.

The movie, to be fair, is not too bad. Director Rob Reiner has done "When Harry Met Sally", and somehow he avoids most of the cheesiness and emotional blackmail that comes with such a story. But not even he can avoid all of the clichés (e.g., Morgan Freeman recounts the story of how he lost his legs. Dramatic pause and close up of his face. Beethoven's sonata begins).

The fact is that most of this movie's pitfalls lay beyond what any director can do. The screenplay is messy, and a number of plot points are careless. The most blatant case is that Morgan Freeman is left alone in an empty house despite being in an electric wheelchair AND having lost use of his left arm (no, you cannot lift yourself to bed with one arm only. Not even if you are Morgan Freeman). Some subplots are thrown in there and simply forgotten. For example, at a certain point the three girls find a lunch box that belonged to their mom. Inside the lunch box is her 7th-grade diary. The oldest girl steals it and reads it. And that's it---we will never know what was inside that, besides a causal remark towards the end of the movie.

Some elements are exceedingly cheap. Morgan Freeman constantly speaks with an erudite selection of words that is what the average viewer can identify as "literary English". Why? Because the authors need to make sure everybody remembers that he is a writer. In the meantime, they forgot that he writes western novels (they clearly never read one) and not Elizabethan drama. Also, at a certain point Morgan Freeman threatens a clown at gunpoint. Why? Because the clown yelled at the little 9-year old girl for puncturing his air-blown castle. The goal of this scene is to make Morgan Freeman look like the hero for defending the girl, and to make him look badass despite his wheelchair. They needed to do that because they felt (correctly) that they did not convey much of Morgan Freeman's character in the preceding 60 minutes. But the clown (as made clear in the preceding scene) makes his living out of renting his rubber castle for birthday parties! And the girl did, in fact, just destroyed it! And why is Morgan Freeman bringing a gun to a 9-year old birthday party?

The fact is that these "technical" issues betray what is the movie's most irredeemable fault, that is, its underlying emotional shallowness. This is best revealed in the case of one secondary character, Carl. Remember that the movie hinges upon Morgan Freeman's handicap and the pain it causes him. But then the authors throw in a secondary character, Carl, who is a young adult with Down syndrome. Carl is the movie's equivalent of the town's fool; he goes around hopping like a bunny (which is, apparently, what the screenwriters believe people with Down syndrome do), wears scuba goggles while shopping, and almost drowns in a shallow pool of water. What's the point of Carl? To give comedic relief, of course, even if it is cheap comedy (a grown up man the hops like a bunny is sad, not funny, unless you are 5 years old) and at the expense of a character who ALSO has an handicap. Somehow, Morgan Freeman's handicap is serious, but Carl's can be laughed upon.

So, overall, the movie does rise above the meager standards of similar flicks, but not quite enough to make viewing it worth it.

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