13 May 2004 | rsoonsa
A Rather Listless Piece..
Henry Fonda is cast as "Grandpa" George McDermott, an elderly Illinois farmer who, after suffering a stroke, is troubled from senile dementia, a circumstance that convinces his son Frank (Michael McGuire) that his father's condition should be controlled by spending his final days in a nursing home due to increasingly erratic behaviour that Frank finds to be an embarrassment. The elder McDermott naturally would prefer to remain upon his farm where he has always lived, and his orphaned teenaged granddaughter Sarah (Kristen Vigard) agrees to the point that she contrives a plan whereby she will secretly take her Grandpa to Chicago so that George's daughter Clara's husband in his capacity as a physician will attest to the soundness of mind of the old man. Sarah cajoles a 14 year old friend, Joey, into driving the three of them to the Windy City in Grandpa's old truck that lacks several gears, and when their journey is interrupted by a rainstorm (there are no windscreen wipers) the trio stays overnight in a boarding house where George's behaviour is perceived as being less than proper. The three continue to their destination (Toronto fills in for Chicago) only to have Sarah be disappointed when she discovers that her aunt Clara is away, for she and her doctor spouse have ironically gone to the family farm where a climactic decision by all of the participants must be made to determine the fate of Grandpa George. Delbert Mann has directed with great skill throughout his career, but apparently this Canadian production holds little interest for him, no doubt explaining in large part the lack of needed retakes and editing expertise, deficiencies that, in combination with some listless and unfocused acting notably needful of coaching, result in a work having scant character development in addition to continuity flaws. Fonda is consistent with the character that he creates here and Vigard in her first role, although requiring the most additional editing, is made for the camera, but in the majority of the scenes a lack of conviction is prominent so that, despite its potentially poignant theme, this film seems as flat as its ersatz Illinois landscape.