All Roads Lead Home

Published: Friday, Sept. 26 2008 1:36 p.m. MDT

"All Roads Lead Home" is more hackneyed than it is heartwarming. It's considerably more annoying than it is enjoyable.

The reasons for that assessment include the overlong movie's series of false endings and its series of treacly, false-note sentiments. Also, it's a confused muddle, and its often-confusing, contradictory messages leave you unclear about just what the filmmakers were trying to say.

And despite having some name actors in its cast, the film is surprisingly amateurish, especially in terms of technical filmmaking. (It's poorly edited and assembled — and there are too many scenes that end with a fade to black.)

"All Roads" was allegedly based on a real-life incident, and it follows Belle Lawlor (Vivien Cardone, from TV's "Everwood"), a preteen who's still struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother.

Belle resents her animal-control officer father, Cody (Jason London), whom she blames for her mother's death. So, after she commits an act of vandalism, he decides to send Belle to stay with her grandfather, Hawk (Peter Coyote).

Cody is hoping the two of them will bond on Hawk's ranch. But it's clear that grandfather and granddaughter don't see eye to eye.

Director Dennis Fallon and screenwriter Douglas Delaney should have concentrated on the family dynamic. Instead, there are numerous, clunky allusions to the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" and ill-fated attempts to broach heady subjects such as euthanasia and animal rights.

On the performance side, about the only actor who emerges unscathed is Sandy resident Cardone. Coyote tries to adopt an unconvincing Midwest accent that sounds different in each scene, while London mutters his way through most of his lines.

And sadly, this was Peter Boyle's final big-screen role. He deserved better than this.

"All Roads Lead Home" is rated PG for brief scenes of violence (a car accident and an animal attack, mostly implied), some drug content (pharmaceuticals and animal euthanasia chemicals), some mildly vulgar humor (animal bodily functions), scattered mild profanity (mostly religiously based), derogatory references and language, and glimpses of nude statues. Running time: 108 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com

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