Bring out the Cynic
Monte Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman) has made a name for himself writing western novels but six years ago his wife died and since then he has lost his passion for writing and has taken up drinking. On the insistence of his nephew Henry (Kenan Thompson) he agrees to spend some time away from his home and spend the summer in a lakeside cabin at the beautiful Bear Isle. It is there he ends up becoming friends with Charlotte O'Neil (Virginia Madsen) single mother with three daughters who live in the cabin next door and provide him with some inspiration again.
"The Magic of Belle Isle" makes me wonder whether a studio picked up the sort of story which gets made for TV and rather than selling it on decided to try and make it with some big screen stars. The trouble is that when you take out of the equation Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen what is left is only a pleasant but average story which doesn't stray from being predictable. As such we have the grumpy and cynical Monte being hard work but over time and being befriended by Charlotte and her children leads to him softening and finding a desire to write again. Maybe for those who don't watch a lot of made for TV movies this will be charming but for me it ended up more familiar than charming.
But what "The Magic of Belle Isle" has is Morgan Freeman and it is Freeman who makes the movie work thanks to his persona. Freeman gives Monte that age and wisdom he is so good at but also brings out some world weary cynicism. In truth without Freeman's natural persona giving his character depth the movie would be even more forgettable despite it having an added romantic element when it comes to the relationship which forms between Monte and Charlotte. On the subject of Charlotte there is Virginia Madsen who gives her character a hard working pleasantness but sadly the character is as routine as much of this movie is.
What this all boils down to is that "The Magic of Belle Isle" is a sentimental charmer but one which feels remarkably ordinary and as such for those who tend to enjoy these touching movies might find this one a little too routine.