The Magic of Belle Isle (2012) Poster

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.Depressed writer goes to cabin and learns to live and write again.
rsvidor12 July 2012
The Magic of Bell Island is a fantastic feel good movie especially for seniors.

Four of us attended and left in a great mood. The scenery and the sets were very realistic. The acting was brilliant, especially the children.

The film had many themes: Reality vs Imagination, Alcholism, Death of a spouse, Divorce, Bringing up children, Dog sitting, Baseball players problems, living with handicaps,and more.

I recommend this film for seniors, married couples, and families with children.

I wonder if the author went on to write for children, another positive talent that he didn't realize he had.
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A great family movie about finding yourself again. Great acting and excellent message. I recommend this. I say A.
Tony Heck1 August 2012
"It don't happen often but sometimes we do bring out the best in each other." After the death of his wife famous writer Monte Wildhorn (Freeman) stops writing and takes up drinking. He moves into a lake house to escape everyone and relax. After meeting his neighbor Charlotte O'Neil (Madsen) and her daughters he begins to change the way he feels about life. One of the biggest problems I have with movies is that about 70% of them are so predictable that after ten minutes you know how it will end. Sometimes that affects how good a movie is and sometimes it doesn't matter. This movie is the later. After fifteen minutes I could have written the ending myself and it would have been identical to the way this one ended. All that said this is a great movie still and Morgan Freeman is about the only actor who can take a very ornery character and make you like him even at his worst. There are not many non-cartoon movies that are great for the whole family to watch. This is one of them. Rated PG but this is still something that you can put in with your kids and not have to worry about what they are seeing. This is a perfect example of how excellent a movie can be simply by using the best actors you can find and having a great idea. No special effects or nudity or swearing. What a strange idea. Overall, a superb family movie that I highly recommend. I give it an A.
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Pure Gold
bob-rutzel-110 November 2012
Wheelchair bound curmudgeon and heavy drinker Monte Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman), a writer of western stories house-sits for a friend in Belle Isle and softens considerably when he befriends single mother Charlotte O'Neil (Virginia Madsen) and her three children.

I don't remember liking a movie as much as this one since THE ASTRONAUT FARMER. The cast were perfect. The dialogues were spot on and very entertaining. The banter between Monte and 9-year old Finnegan O'Neil (Emma Fuhrmann) was pure gold and proved to be the beginnings of Monte softening his outlook on life. I wished that banter never ended. Like I said Pure Gold. Kudos to the writers.

This is indeed a feel good movie with a low key pacing and you never wanted it to end.

For starters we see curmudgeon Monte be bam-boozled into reading an obituary for someone he "didn't know;" getting a side-kick in Carl (Ash Christian) a somewhat special needs person; giving aspirin to Ringo, the dog (that he renames Spot) with stiff hind quarters; and helping Finnegan learn to write stories. All this sets the stage for everything that follows. And, everything that follows shows growth of all characters.

Sometimes like a big juicy cheeseburger you just "gotta have" you also "gotta see" a pure gold movie like this. (10/10)

FYI: Virginia Madsen was also in the Astronaut Farmer.

Violence: No. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: No.

Rating: A
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Feel Good Movie
ssienra20 July 2012
With all the crap coming out Hollywood these days, this is a feel good movie and if you really pay attention to the undertones, the movie lifts you up and is inspiring. The acting is fairly good, and Morgan F. as always has the right line to say at each moment.

If you are in the mood for a family gathering type movie with a happy ending, this is a one to watch.

The movie is inspirational and although the love innuendo between the two main characters can be thought by some to be distasteful, the real age of Monty is never revealed in the film so assumptions should not be made based on Morgan Freeman's real age.
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Can't trust the critics on this one; the movie touched me
John Raymond Peterson5 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Can't trust the critics on this one; consulting my usual sources, I found unexpectedly low ratings. How could this be, I asked myself. Well, I found this, Morgan Freeman in a movie directed and co-written by Rob Reiner, was suspiciously slanted. Perhaps the story was grossly uninteresting or unappealing. I wondered; I certainly didn't think so when I read the storyline. After viewing the movie, I can assure that's not the case. It's a beautiful story, thanks to inspired writing, great dialogue and impeccable delivery by talented performers and not in the least by splendid directing.

I'll grant one factor to critics, for their reason to underrate it; the ending is predictable. So what! Your favorite songs and books are some things you can listen to and read again, even if you know the outcome; that does not make it less good. If you want something unpredictable, watch 'The Skin I live In'. I was very surprised by that movie (one I liked for that reason), but I liked 'We Bought A Zoo' just as much, yet for the opposite reason; it is predictable, but the journey is the pleasure the movies provide the viewers, after all.

Morgan Freeman is as good as he was in his Oscar wining performance. It takes talent to make you believe a character who is a Beethoven loving cowboy writer drunk, one who speaks like the best novelists of any period. Guys… you may want to write some lines his character delivers to Virginia Madsen's character Charlotte; they are the kind to woo any woman with a pulse. Two of Charlotte's girls are adorable, much like Maggie Elizabeth Jones was in 'We Bought a Zoo'; she was so good, it takes those two girls of Charlotte to give you that same charmed feeling, but you will feel it. Madsen was the perfect fit for the role of Charlotte; she can still use her eyes like a magnet to steel, and that's a good thing. I recommend the movie without hesitation and screw the critics.
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Life is good.
angelgodsheir13 September 2012
I started watching this film without to many expectations even for a family drama, but as the story stars to develop you can tell this is going somewhere special and is definitely worthy of your time. This is the story of a writer on his winter days that goes to an island to spent the summer and discover that not everything may be lost. Without getting into to many details I can tell you Morgan Freeman is amazing as always, he delivers a beautiful performance and the rest of the cast is good as well. The script is fantastic, you can imagine your self in those situations and feel for the characters. The photography and the music is perfect and everything together leaves you with a taste of "Life is beautiful" in your mouth.
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Don't you dare say you don't like Morgan Freeman! LOL.
Oliver Rendchen20 October 2012
The Magic of Belle Isle, sounds a bit cheesy doesn't it? Well, it's not. It has a disabled Morgan Freeman who gives up on life until finding a single mother with three girls. You think it will be predictable but not as much as you think; I thought it had a really good story and enjoyed it the whole way through. I loved the humour in this movie because who doesn't like a good laugh and the jokes in this film will make anybody laugh. I like the ways the characters were brought out and some really good ones that taught you about life and stuff. So I really would recommend this to everyone as it is good family entertainment which you don't get to often, so forget the rubbish you're going to watch tonight and see The Magic of Belle Isle.
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A Writer Regains the Will to Live
Chris_Pandolfi6 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Rob Reiner's "The Magic of Belle Isle" tells the story of a man who regains the will to live after entering the lives of a single mom and her three daughters. This is the kind of movie that divides audiences into two basic categories: Those that like sentimental dramas, and those that don't. I'm sure my opening description alone is enough for you to determine which category you fall into. For my money, the film is simple, well-intentioned, and good-hearted – flawed, yet protected and ultimately redeemed by its belief in second chances. Given the hardships of reality, the last thing we need is a movie that reminds us of them. What we really need is a movie that gives us reason to hope for something better. You may think I'm naïve, although I prefer to think of myself as open to possibilities.

The man at the center of the story is Monte Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman). As a young man, his athletic prospects were shattered when an accident robbed him of his ability to walk. He would go on to make a name for himself as a writer of western fiction, only to give up on it following the death of his beloved wife. Wheelchair bound, in his golden years, and having lost everything including his faith, he now spends his days downing bottles of alcohol and making acerbic remarks. An easy target is his nephew, Henry (Kenan Thompson), who made arrangements for Monte to housesit a small house during the summer in a quiet upstate New York lakeside town. Part of this involves taking care of an old dog, whose refusal to fetch a ball will be a running gag throughout the entire film.

In due time, Monte meets his next-door neighbor, the soon-to-be-divorced Charlotte O'Neil (Virginia Madsen), and her three daughters. There's the rebellious teenager, Willow (Madeline Carroll), who really just wants to spend time with her unseen father. There's the little one, Flora (Nicolette Pierini), whose main purpose is to look adorable. Finally, there's the middle child, Finnegan, a.k.a. Finn (Emma Fuhrmann), a tomboy who has a flair for making up outlandish stories and testing them on Flora. Despite her obvious gift, she's under the impression that she doesn't know how to be a writer, and so she appeals to Monte to be her mentor. Monte, of course, will initially come off as cantankerous before taking a liking to Finn, admiring her curiosity and determination.

Several things come of this initial encounter. Firstly, Monte and Charlotte take the first steps towards falling in love. Secondly, he's invited to attend a memorial service for a man he never met and is asked by the town mayor (Fred Willard) to deliver an already-written eulogy. This could, perhaps, be a lighthearted jab at Freeman's secondary career as a voice-over artist, but never mind. Thirdly, Finn will venture to Belle Isle, a tiny island in the middle of the lake, and retrieve a lunchbox full of her mother's school-age love letters. Monte will also befriend, as only he can, a mentally challenged man named Carl (Ash Christian), who hops rather than walks from one point to another. Finally, he will be inspired to start writing again; although his new stories are structurally and grammatically appropriate for Flora, it's obvious that the subtexts are aimed squarely at Charlotte.

Some time is reserved for a subplot involving Monte's agent, the delightfully named Joe Viola (Kevin Pollack), who's eager to get his client back in the game. More specifically, he wants Monte to sell the rights to one of his books to Hollywood. Repeated phone calls go unreturned for obvious reasons, and so Viola is forced to drop by unannounced. I can't help but wonder how necessary this aspect of the story was, given the fact that the real focus is the relationship Monte shares with Charlotte and Finn. However, I do think it would have worked had it been separated from "The Magic of Belle Isle" and expanded into its own feature-length film, one a little less emotional and family- friendly.

I grant you that the story is contrived and that specific characters, most notably Carl, are included primarily as foils for Monte as he undergoes emotional rehabilitation. What saves it, by my standards, was the fact that there was obviously no malicious intent on the part of Reiner or Guy Thomas, the screenwriter. The only questionable aspect of "The Magic of Belle Isle" is Monte educating Finn on how to be a writer. It's clear right from the start that she already knows what she's doing; to have her approach him and ask for guidance was forced and implausible. Apart from that, the film is no more or less that what it is, namely a harmless, feel-good story. While it may not win a spot on the shelf next to Reiner's more substantial films, it at least won't be mentioned in the same sentence with the year's worst films.

-- Chris Pandolfi (
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A Fine summer movie. Just what you would expect from Rob Reiner.
scunnurt344 July 2012
Love and sharing can come in many forms. So too, growth and development. Reiner scores well touching all aspects of the good side of humans.

He also gives a complete picture of life seen through the simplistic eyes of children while allowing the complex world of adults be part of the story without taking any of the magic from childhood.

The cast is wonderful and I loved the strength, power, and insecurity of Morgan Freeman.

One again admires Reiner's ability to show complex stories through the strength of his actors rather than depending on CG and other cheap slight-of-hand fakery.
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nightingaleron9 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
my wife and i sat and watched this last night and were glued to the story throughout the whole film. Morgan Freeman plays an excellent role as the wheelchair bound crippled ex professional writer who is the innocent victim of a hit and run driver. The accident, obviously leaving him bitter and turning to the bottle. Trying to find solace on the Belle Isle, he meets his neighbor and her three children and things start to change as he uses his writing skills to teach one of them in particular to use her own imagination. The acting from the Mother and all 3 daughters is very good and i would not be surprised to see Freeman win an Oscar for his role. If you have not seen this movie, i highly recommend it.
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A Good Movie
Ciprian Alexandru6 November 2012
If it's Sunday afternoon and you're kind of bored, if you're not in the mood for anything in particular, press play on "The Magic of Bell Isle".

These movie will not disappoint you, it will not leave a bad taste but rather it will leave you smiling and feeling good.

The story is very original and well written. The characters are not well developed but it doesn't matter because the dialogue is remarkable. You will find some great quotes in this film and I guarantee you'll be smiling at the end.

It's a very light comedy with just a pinch of drama, and the reason is such a good film is, of course, Morgan Freeman.

I myself enjoyed the movie and recommend it for a rainy afternoon.
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Boring and clichéd
Steve Day6 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
How people can say this film is amazing is beyond me. I was embarrassed by the paint by numbers "old drunk becomes lovable" routine. Morgan seems to be in need of a paycheck or his judgement is on the way out. Also at the end a glaring error when old Monty uses his arm to hug the little girl. The same arm that is pointedly totally immobile during the whole film....(and yes I know Morgan has some real life disability in the arm) On the positive side is Emma Furhmann, the little girl's acting is beyond her years and she could be one for the future. Also Ash Christian gives a surprisingly real edge to his character. All in all, may be worth a view if you are into slush and sentimentality but it was a little syrupy for my tastes.
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Shallow pseudo-inspirational movie, but it could have been worse.
Andrea Stocco20 December 2012
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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Wanted to like more, but way too contrived...
mlarthington-327-2070381 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I had high hopes for this movie and was looking forward to enjoying the premise of a curmudgeonly writer "finding" himself in an idyllic lakeside cottage, through his interactions with the single mom and her kids next door (and even through Spot, the dog). However, my eyes rolled and I yelled "NO" at the screen, when the story chose to go down the romantic path.

The scenery was beautiful, and I did enjoy Monte's erudite manner of speaking. The acting was fairly good all around, except for some over-reaching on Finn's part.

There were way too many contrived moments for my liking, though: 1) When a 9-year old damages a jump house, there are consequences. Monte should have been arrested for assault, for brandishing his gun. 2) As a single mother myself, I would surely not ask the much older gun-brandishing neighbor, on the spur of the moment, to watch my children, while I attended a scheduled meeting and planned to be away for 14 hours or so. 3) The romance element was downright creepy. Period. We all know that Morgan Freeman is in his 70's, and Virginia Madsen's character would have realistically been only in her mid-40's (as the mother of a 7-year old). This was too much of an age gap to be believable, even by Hollywood standards.

I gave this film 6 stars based solely on my respect for Morgan Freeman as an actor. Perhaps I am too cynical for this much syrupy sweetness, but in my opinion, a reality check should have been applied.
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A predictable, yet surprising gem
Z L3 December 2012
While you must admit, Morgan Freeman is the type of actor who generally falls into the category of playing the same style for each of his films, he does it with solid style and the "Morgan Freeman-esque" on-screen persona we can all recognize from voice alone.

In this story, it was incredibly reminiscent of "High Crimes" (2002), a film directed by Carl Franklin where he also plays a character with a bit of a weakness for the booze, except of course, he was a lot older in this one. When Morgan Freeman plays a man with a weakness for alcohol, he still manages to appear so wise and commandeering of the role that you can't help but to admire him anyway.

As any other review will tell you, the story is very predictable although I personally feel that it's not a story about the ending and resolution, but one whose importance stems from the very journey itself. Sure, we all know what kind of movie this will be based off the film's introduction sequence alone, but you must let go of traditional Hollywood movies where the focus is all on the resolution, and appreciate every minute for what it's worth -- a series of small and magnificently written and directed dialog that all adds up and becomes the sum of the film, regardless of the overall picture you may have already deduced from the first 15 minutes.

Throughout this movie, I found myself to be smiling constantly even after I'd long stopped paying attention. When I saw the single mother and her children, I began wondering what sort of "chick flick" I'd gotten myself into, but Rob Reiner did it right (although he only seemed to have time for the bigger picture and had no choice but to neglect some smaller elements).

I only had two major complaints with this movie and neither contain spoilers, so feel free to read on.

First, the product placement was a bit on the absurd side. There is a scene that takes place in a small convenience store where way too many minutes are devoted to discussing certain snacks by name-brand, going so far as to have the cashier *slowly* hand over merchandise with the product labels even perfectly facing the camera, and even a bit where the cashier announces a certain cereal to be "gluten-free". As I watched Morgan Freeman recite a brand by name and borderline a slogan too, I had to wonder, "What are you doing, how can you say that with a smile on your face?" The other problem I had was with believability in Freeman's character. This is a rather pleasant, heart-felt story that'll leave you with warm fuzzies, although Freeman's character is introduced as an ornery and bitter man. So I thought, "Okay, there is going to be some character transformations in store, right?" Not quite. Despite a convincing performance as a cranky (but still Morgan Freeman type) character, we see that he flawlessly integrates himself into social situations as an overly warm, polite, and cheerful sort, even when supposedly drunk. It is almost as if the movie went from start to finish with no in-between, since Freeman was already charming as could be, despite being a cranky old sod.

But then again, this is Rob Reiner, and the goal is to get a wonderful story told as smoothly as possible, even if it means putting away some of the smaller details. Also as refreshing, is the PG rating. I'm really not used to seeing good, wholesome films like this, although it is still very guy-friendly. The ongoing dialog with the dog was absolutely brilliant.

While this is not a story about its end, but rather the smaller moments throughout the journey itself, I still found it unusually pleasant and fun to watch, and will not be forgetting it, but recommending it.. especially to the parents.
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sadly predictable
SnoopyStyle10 September 2015
Monty Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman) is an alcoholic wheelchair bound Western writer who has stopped writing. His nephew Henry (Kenan Thompson) gets him a place to stay in Belle Isle for the summer. The place is next door to recently divorced Charlotte O'Neil (Virginia Madsen) and his three girls Finnegan (Emma Fuhrmann), Willow (Madeline Carroll) and Flora (Nicolette Pierini). Finnegan loves to tell stories.

I hoped that Rob Reiner retains an ounce of originality but feared that this would be sadly uninspired. This ends with too much of my fears coming true. These are great actors doing their best. The story has its share of eccentric characters. I really like Freeman with Fuhrmann. This could be a sweet kids movie especially if it concentrated on the girl instead. It's depressingly predictable to have the May to December romance. With such great actors, this has the opportunity to be good but the material doesn't have much meat on the bones.
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The magic is if you can actually watch the whole film
indiedavid24 July 2015
I cannot believe Virginia Madsen and Morgan Freeman agreed to be associated with this film. It is poorly written, poorly directed and with the exception of the two actors mentioned above, poorly acted. Essentially it is four cliché stories that have been done before, meshed into one big, cheesy mess. There are some unbearable scenes that were obviously crafted by the writer who couldn't find a transition between stories.

There is a character who is mentally challenged and the actor who played the role did such a poor job, I actually thought he was joking for a few minutes.

The story is so predictable, I could actually finish much of the dialogue.

On the positive side, the cinematography is pretty good and the scenery is nice to look at.
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Draws me in...
paddy311830 May 2013
OK. This film is not for me. I'm a bloke. I'm a geek. I am "North of fifty".

So why did I first catch it at 5 AM in the morning intending to continue my channel hopping then gradually have it pull me away from my backlog of Arrow and Dr Who episodes that I have pre-recorded for such moments? And after watching it once, a week ago I think, I am so hooked that when I found out that it was on this morning and it was so near the beginning It easily won over watching The Gadget Show or even going off to my usual morning open-source software writing?!

I found the film to be highly engaging without being too "mushy"; and on the other hand, neither does it try to be too gritty in the hope of being more "realistic". The film is well written with a story I wanted to hear and once heard, I wanted to hear it again so I could ensure I had truly discovered some nuances and was rewarded by finding more!

Normally, I am not moved to write such reviews, but the film deserves my first mainly because it shouldn't be a film I like so much.

Hats off to the makers.
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Great Leads but Awfully Silly and Soapy Story
Michael_Elliott6 July 2012
The Magic of Belle Isle (2012)

** (out of 4)

Rob Reiner's latest film thankfully has a couple great performances or else we'd be looking at one of the worst movies of the year. Morgan Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a writer who has lost pretty much all of his touch, desire to live and has become a cranky alcoholic. He's sent to a summer home to try and come up with some fresh ideas but he just keeps going deeper into the bottle until he meets his divorced neighbor (Virginia Madsen) and her three daughters. THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE is one of the most sentimental movies ever made but it's so poorly directed, edited and written that you can't help but roll your eyes at how stupid it actually is. I don't mind movies trying to make you cry or feel warm but this thing here goes so far overboard that it really did seem like an eight-year-old girl wrote it. The dialogue is beyond bad and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what the film was trying to do. This is the type of film that is so lazily written that you can't help but want to throw your hands up and just give up on the entire thing. Everything in this movie just happens for no apparent reason. Normally you'd have some sort of character development with a mean drunk turning into a nice angel but that doesn't happen here. Instead of giving us situations that we can believe in, the film simply has stuff happen just so the film can move along. Mommy having trouble with the oldest daughter? The problem is easily solved in the matter of seconds. Every "issue" is so easily handled that you can't help but feel the lazy writing is letting everyone down. What keeps the film going are the performances of Freeman and Madsen. Both of them deliver strong performances, although I must say that neither has too much to work with. One wishes that the screenplay had been a little more demanding so that the two really could have had more fireworks together. Thankfully both of them are great enough because otherwise we'd be left with a real mess of a film.
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The Magic is a theatrical illusion of what could have been
tracy-guest26 April 2013
I had not heard of this movie before but knowing that Morgan Freeman was the star actor and Rob Reiner was the star director I had basic expectations that it would at least be a "good, solid" movie. Given their track record this movie was a disappointment overall. It was a feel good story that could have been a really good movie but had a bad start.

Firstly the script was so full of fluffy, wordy dialogue I found myself thinking the writer likes to "hear himself write" especially the first two thirds or more of the film. I felt like this is not how these people would talk or act. It seemed like a middle school play where the actors were enunciating and "acting" some bad lines.

My apologies to this wonderful director of other Oscar nominated movies, but I wondered at times if Mr. Reiner was "phoning it in" on this one.

It was not until the lead character Monte rediscovered himself, his imagination and talent for writing and the joy of living through his relationship with this family that the movie started to feel genuine.

I am not a writer, and definitely not a critic but I felt compelled to share my opinion. Hell I actually don't even like reading "professional" movie reviews because the critics seem to want to sound smarter than everyone else and I think the viewer should like a movie based on their on their own tastes and values, etc not what someone that gets paid to sell papers or TV time says.

This an honest opinion from and average guy. My 2 cents, I am sure it worth less to some of you.

Tracy in TX
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A lovely story, but a little disconcerting
pjamok-692-3973874 June 2012
While the story idea is sweet, the casting leaves me a bit perplexed.

The children are wonderfully cast and fabulous in their given roles, as is Virginia Madsen as their mother.

Yes, Morgan Freeman is a genius actor and plays the part well, but the romantic undertone is a little creepy. He is twenty-five years older than Virgina Madsen, who is exceptionally attractive for a fifty-year-old woman, but they do not fit romantically and his character comes off a little pervy for his subtle lusting after her. If the genders were reversed, it would be a total turn-off for the viewer. The continuation of the much older man/younger woman scenario (think "The Bridges of Madison County") is dated and unrealistic.

The setting is beautiful and the storyline sentimental, so, overall, it is a solid summer film.
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Belle Isle
tabjeep5 September 2012
Well I can see that this movie is overpriced due to it's story. Freeman's acting is smooth and it's always a delight to watch a movie with him, but in this case there;s nothing more. As I said, his acting is really smooth and I'd dare to say that I got bored early enough. The feeling which grows among Freeman and Madsen is so out of the blue and totally not believable. There's an awkwardness among them and its like Madsen is afraid to react with such an actor and Freeman on the other hand is just being bored.My 5 star is only for the kids in this movie but that's overall. I wouldn't go to see it at theaters that;s for sure and it's almost sure that it's not going to the Oscars as other reviews saying. It's just a typical Sunday movie, spineless and nothing more.
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Don't let the "professional critics" steer you away from this delightful family drama!
lpgerrald18 December 2012
I didn't know anything about this movie before watching it. But with Morgan Freeman as the leading character, I believed it had potential. Even my husband, who rarely watches movies and likes even fewer, thought it was a movie worth watching. It has humor, pathos, and leaves the viewer feeling good when the lights go up. Morgan F. does his usual amazing performance as a jaded writer suffering from writer's block who (reluctantly) moves to a small community for the summer. He ends up dog-sitting in a house next door to a lovely woman (who is going through a divorce) and her three daughters. The middle daughter, Finnegan, charms her way into his life and his heart in her pursuit of imagination. Although Morgan F.'s character starts out pretty rough around the edges, he is witty, articulate, and increasingly endearing as the story progresses. A "feel good" family film!
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Doesn't quite work out the way it wants to.
Boba_Fett11384 August 2012
This is obviously not really being a movie with a real point to it but it instead rather wants to be feel-good movie. It however for most part fails as such because of its lacking story, that is lacking any good emotions and handles its characters poorly.

The characters actually confused me. First of all, it was a strange thing that at the beginning of this movie the Morgan Freeman character was supposed to come across as a grumpy old man, old Clint Eastwood character-style, so to speak but at the same time he also came across as an humorous and soft guy. It didn't quite resonated with each other and was somewhat confusing to watch. It was as if the film-makers themselves didn't really knew what to do with the character or were too afraid the viewers would distance themselves from the character and this movie if its main character was being purely a grumpy old man, in the first part of it.

But also the dynamics between all of the different characters doesn't quite work out well or convincing enough. Why oh why did they had to turn this into a love-story as well? It isn't being a convincing thing anyway that a single mother would fall for a cripple 70-something year old guy and it doesn't exactly gets made believable in this movie either. I would had most definitely preferred it if the movie focused on the friendship between the man and the family instead. The movie was perfectly good and sweet when it did just that and nothing more than just that.

The movie also most definitely has some pointless characters in it. What was the point of having Fred Willard in this? And why did there needed to be a mentally challenged character as well, that behaves like an absolute moron, instead of a mentally challenged person. I hate it when a movie does that. It's so offensive! Not just to mentally challenged persons but also the audience in general. Perhaps they though they would get some cheap laughs and drama out of it but I have some news for them; it just doesn't work out very well.

Also, the Morgan Freeman character was supposed to be a mentor to one of the young girls and I thought at one point that the movie would entirely become just about that. However, by the end of the movie it doesn't at all feels like he finished teaching the girl everything she needed and wanted to know about writing. The movie definitely feels incomplete when it comes down to some of its story lines. Who knows, maybe an additional 15 or 20 minutes could had improved this movie significantly.

It's always a dangerous thing to have young kids playing a significant role in a movie like this. The danger is that these movies tend to get overly sentimental and sappy and it's also risky since children often aren't being the best at acting. But I have to say, as far as all these things for this movie are concerned, it isn't being anything too bad. The kid actors were good, though the writing for them was still definitely lacking.

It's hard to care about anything that happens in this movie, since the characters just aren't being handled good and interesting enough and they aren't going through some interesting enough developments and transitions. In that regard this movie truly fails and falls completely flat as a genre movie, though it's not a movie that I hated watching, so I'm still being somewhat mild with my rating for it.

Perhaps it was also thanks to the fine actors that appear in this movie. It's never a punishment to watch Morgan Freeman acting in a movie, even when the movie and his character aren't being all that great or interesting.Virginia Madsen also did a great job, as did all of kid actors, like I mentioned earlier on already.

Just not the best of most effective genre movie out there. Try again Mr. Reiner!

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Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman team up for a 'feel good' movie.
TxMike15 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When you look at his entire resume' as a director, you see that Rob Reiner has come a long way since playing the 'meathead' on 'All In The Family', and as a director has given us many memorable movies. He has done it again here, and while this one will not likely rise to the top of his list of accomplishments, it is a very nice one with a good story.

Morgan Freeman is Monte Wildhorn , somewhat formerly famous author who has quit writing, and has become a curmudgeon of sorts. He is in a wheel chair, we don't find out why until much later in the movie, but he is going to spend the summer in this New York State 'Belle Isle' community, in a small run-down house. Next door are a single mom and her three daughters.

The mom is Virginia Madsen as Charlotte O'Neil . Her middle daughter is 11-ish Emma Fuhrmann as Finnegan O'Neil , the most interesting and precocious of the daughters. She becomes friends of sort with Monte pretty quickly, and plays a role in getting him interested again in writing. And he helps her learn how to use her imagination better. Monte and Charlotte also seem to be developing a bond, in spite of their large age difference. And of course his being confined to a wheel chair.

Very nice, rather quiet movie.
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