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  • Being a South Florida resident, I practically watched this whole sad story unfold right before my very eyes. It almost seems surreal that this whole saga happened. I, like many Americans, had conflicting emotions and there seemed to be no easy answer to it. Nevertheless, I was eager to watch the movie when it came out. Although this movie has some good quality acting, there are serious faults with it.

    This movie could've been a hell of a lot better if Fox had actually taken the time to really write a good screenplay. This is the film's major flaw. The film tries to cram in so much detail in a two hour time frame that the sequence of events becomes confusing at times. There were so many twists and turns to the real life drama that it should've been done as a two-part miniseries. Apparently, the powers-at-be at Fox were so eager to be the first to do a film on the story that they didn't care to really develop a good, cohesive screenplay. It's a shame too because the caliber of actors in the film is extraordinary, and they do the best they can with a lackluster script.

    The acting performances here are solid and gripping, most notably Esai Morales as Elian's devoted dad and Miguel Sandoval as the great-uncle Lazaro. The performance of Laura Herring as the anguished cousin was also decent, although there were moments were her portrayal seemed to be way over the top particularly towards the end of the film. Alan Rachins also gives a worthy performance as the Miami family's attorney.

    To its credit, the movie does try its best to present the story from a neutral perspective, allowing the viewers to sympathize with both the father and the Miami relatives. That in itself is remarkable given the nature of a story that could easily slant one way or the other.

    Overall, the movie could've been better but it is still somewhat watchable. My rating is 5.8 out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    OK, I'll admit I read the newspaper articles and watched all the live coverage of the events which formed the basis for this movie. I made and changed my opinion of the events several times over the earlier part of the year 2000 almost weekly as new information became available. And I'll admit I scoffed when I learned how quickly the tragedy would be dramatized for television. But the movie itself actually surprised me by remaining neutral and allowing its audience to form their own opinions. MINOR SPOILERS BELOW...

    Furthermore, the movie manages to sentimentalize Elian's situation without lowering itself to melodrama. Besides, the story's events are no surprise, so the focus stays on the miracle of the boy's rescue instead of the political standoff that pitted Cuban-Americans against Castro.

    As far as the acting goes, Esai Morales deftly manages to portray Juan Miguel Gonzalez as a loving father, despite the fact that he wants his son to return to communist Cuba, where the boy will (arguably) lead a much more impoverished, oppressed life. The boy who plays Elian also does well by sitting back, saying very little, and just looking overwhelmed, which is basically what I remember happened.

    I don't think this TV drama will be long be remembered as a milestone in television history, nevertheless it definitely provides some involving, family-friendly entertainment for a slow weeknight. And, at least, it provides an opportunity for further family discussion in the process.
  • Agent1025 March 2003
    Working at a newspaper does have its advantages. One day, I found a tape for this movie on the "free stuff" counter. I regretted the moment I was intrigued. Overwrought with horrific dialogue and poor pacing, this telefilm didn't bring anything new to the table. It was all crap we had heard about, and the details were somewhat shoddy at best. In typical Fox fashion, they rushed too quickly in the processing of this film. Maybe a few rewrites, and maybe a little more gumption would have made this film better. But all has been said and done.
  • So why should I care now? I was really getting sick about hearing about Elian Gonzalez every night on the news. ("In today's news, Elian took a leak on a bush in his backyard. Oh, and there was a horrible train and bus crash that killed hundreds, a cure for cancer has been found and World War 3 just started, but first, more on Elian.") It was getting to the point where I was going to go down to Florida and throw the kid back into the ocean and tell him to swim to Cuba. If I seem a little mean, I'm sorry, but six months of hearing every little detail about that kid really did not make me feel the least bit sorry for him. I don't even have to see the movie, I already know the whole story from having it bombarded in my face every day. 1/10