Winning Melissa's Heart
Having been stood up Claudia Casara (Melissa Gilbert) heads to the pictures alone which is where she meets Tom (Tim Matheson) and his 10 year old son Joshua (Matt Lawrence) who after getting chatting Tom and Claudia start dating. For Joshua this isn't anything new as he is use to watching his dad meet an attractive woman and then after a few months tire of them and move on to the next woman. But whilst Joshua seems pretty upbeat Claudia spots that it is a facade and this young boy is desperate for a parent who will be there for him to love as his father is always doing his own thing. Things become complicated the more time Claudia spends with Joshua as she starts to love him like a son whilst he loves her like a mum, the trouble is not only does Tom grow tired of Claudia but Joshua's estranged mum shows up leaving Claudia unsure what to do especially as Joshua wants her to be his mum.
"Joshua's Heart" is the perfect example of the importance of casting because a movie can have an entertaining story but without the right people who can bring out the character depth it can fall flat. Fortunately those who chose the cast for "Joshua's Heart" got it spot on as the trio of Melissa Gilbert, Tim Matheson and Matthew Lawrence all play their parts perfectly and by doing so they make the storyline in "Joshua's Heart" come to life.
But before we get to the casting there is the story and it is simple enough as we have the girlfriend who becomes a mother to the boyfriend's son and the son who looks at her as a mother which leads to complications. But whilst the concept is simple writer Susan Cuscuna has explored the various avenues which open up from this story so whilst we have the complications which arise when Tom has enough of Claudia and then Joshua's real mum showing up we get other aspects such as Claudia's mum worrying that Claudia is getting to close whilst her work friends barely see her outside of the office. It gives "Joshua's Heart" a far more rounded feel and that allows the characters to become more real.
Now I am not going to tell you the end of "Joshua's Heart" other than Claudia faces a tough decision when it comes to Joshua who wants to live her. What I will do is go back to the casting as take Tim Matheson who has the handsome bachelor thing going on who enjoys having a woman around but does not want a middle class, little league kind of life and he gets it spot on. It is the same with Matthew Lawrence who is convincing as a young boy who due to his father acts grown up but longs for a parent to love him, who lets him be a little boy. And on top of that is Melissa Gilbert who brings to the screen a sweet maternal aspect which not only makes her easy to like but feel for when she is conflicted over her feelings for Joshua.
What this all boils down to is that "Joshua's Heart" is one of those made for TV movies which draws you in with an interesting story and the perfect casting as well as the perfect performances. It is the casting which makes this movie for me and in a strange way all the characters have a likeable side.