Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 1997 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // March 9th, 2011
Hello, I'm Ernie Hudson. Enjoy my random appearances in this review.
Our story begins with the happy marriage of Sara Kate (Elizabeth McGovern) and Gaten Hill (Ernie Hudson). Right off the bat we can see that Gaten's relatives aren't too excited to have a white woman as part of the family. Most of this concern revolves around Clover (Zelda Harris), Gaten's daughter from a previous marriage. Clover obviously isn't happy about the arrangement, but Gaten promises that everything will work out. This folks, is what we call a dead meat speech.
Before the 10 minute mark is reached Gaten is killed in a car accident as he and Sara Kate are on the way to their honeymoon. Gaten is laid to rest and Sara Kate decides to do her best to raise Clover. This causes a heap of trouble as both Clover and her aunt Everleen (Loretta Devine) don't think much about a white stranger raising a little girl. Will Sara Kate be able to keep her promise to Gaten and win the hearts of her new family?
Hi, I'm Ernie Hudson and I'm going to stand here and smile knowingly.
Um, yeah, about that. It seems that the spirit of Gaten, or maybe Gaten himself from beyond the grave appears to Clover and Sara Kate as the movie progresses. At first you think it's going to be a tale of how Gaten, guardian angel-like appears and tries to guide the two women of his life together but...
Hi, I'm Ernie Hudson and I'm almost in shadow. Can you see me?
See, he just keeps popping up for little rhyme or reason. And the way the characters talk about him is odd. They treat him like he's really there. They carry on conversations with him and even argue with him that he's dead now so he shouldn't be appearing and disappearing like that.
Hi, I'm Ernie Hudson and I can touch you.
That's another question I have. He seems to be able to touch folks. Sarah Kate even has a love scene with him...um...it...um. OK, that raises a whole new set of questions. Is she imagining this love scene? Is it really happening? Is she making out with a ghost? If so, did she pick the awful sleazy saxophone music to play in the background? Look, this is getting into an area that I didn't think a Hallmark production was going to get into.
Hi, I'm Ernie Hudson and I made you uncomfortable. I'm sorry.
It's OK man. Loved you in Ghostbusters.
Hi, I'm Ernie Hudson and I appreciate your appreciation.
Alright, back to Clover. The basic story has merit and could be really interesting. When the human drama is playing along it works really well. McGovern is solid as a woman out of her element, dealing with grief and wanting to help at the same time. Zelda Harris is excellent as Clover, making her a little spitfire, but a believable one. I enjoyed Devine's turn as the very angry and distrustful Aunt. Heck even Ernie Hudson...
Hi, I'm Ernie Hudson and you invoked me by saying my name.
Stop doing that! Even Ern, um, that actor from Congo, does a really good job. Granted he's better in the beginning when he was an actual character and not some freaky specter or undead minion or memory or whatever he's supposed to be.
Kidding aside, I know what the movie was going for. It was supposed to be a personification of the power a dead loved one has over those they leave behind. Wise old Aunt Katie (Beatrice Winde) even explains how sometimes the dead can't leave because of the love they hold for the living. But the execution of that idea is what takes this good story and pushes it into the ridiculous. Maybe if director Jud Taylor had kept Gaten as a more etherial presence, instead of a nearly physical being it would have been less bizarre and unintentionally funny. I mean this is a movie about grief and I was chuckling whenever Ern...um the Warden from Oz was on screen.
Vivendi provides a bare bones release of the film. But it looks pretty good for a made for television movie. The stereo mix is well balanced between music and dialogue.
Ok, Ernie, how about you provide the verdict.
Hello, I'm Ernie Hudson and I declare this movie guilty. Hey, wait a second!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated