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Movie Review

The Magic of Belle Isle

MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and language including some suggestive comments.

Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Drama Comedy
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 6, 2012 (limited)
DVD: September 18, 2012
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Magnolia Pictures Copyright, Magnolia Pictures Copyright, Magnolia Pictures Copyright, Magnolia Pictures Copyright, Magnolia Pictures Copyright, Magnolia Pictures Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures

second chances and starting over

coping with being disabled


Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer


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Featuring: Morgan FreemanMonte Wildhorn
Virginia MadsenMrs. O’Neil
Director: Rob Reiner
Producer: Castle Rock Entertainment
Voltage Pictures
more »
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

“a re-coming of age story”

“The Magic of Belle Isle” centers around Monte (Morgan Freeman), a washed up drunken author, who takes a job house-sitting for the summer. He’s a cranky man who is more interested in getting his next drink than he is in returning the calls of his agent.

The story unfolds in a rather predictable fashion. Monte is not interested in making friends, but people of the island are outgoing in nature, and, before he knows it, he’s invited to attend a funeral service and read a eulogy for a gentleman he never met. At the funeral, he meets an autistic young man who likes to hop like a bunny. When the mom asks if he could call her son, Carl, on the phone one day, just to make him happy, he says he has no use for the phone. But then he reviews his kind nature, as he calls Carl over and tells him he is his sidekick, but he must lose the bunny hop. It’s simple things like that that reveal Monte to have a bigger heart than he lets on.

Next door to where he is staying is a single mother Charlotte (Virginia Madsen) and her three young daughters. Young Finnegan (Emma Furmann) from next door wants Monte to teach her to write and strikes up what Monte sees as an unwelcome friendship. As the people in town continue to reach out to Monte, we see that his gruff manner hides an otherwise thoughtful man who lost his inspiration when his wife passed away. Monte begins to write again for Charolotte’s youngest daughter——short stories about an elephant and a mouse. As Charlotte reads them at bedtime, she senses that the elephant represents Monte, and she is the mouse, and she begins to realize there is a growing interest towards her.

Monte is confined to a wheelchair, but that’s almost like a side note. You feel more like there is an emotional pain and hurt dwelling in Monte, rather than noticing his physical disability. As with many people, that results in a tough exterior. Given time and kindness, you can often find the person underneath. It’s a beautiful thing to see as, over time, an individual lets walls come down and reciprocates with true friendship. God promises in Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” [curing their pains and sorrows.] Another beautiful passage is Psalm 34:18,

“The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.”

If you are broken-hearted, the Lord is there with you and near to you.

There is not a lot of objectionable content to mention. No nudity and the only thing close to violence involves Monte shooting a gun into the air to get everyone’s attention. There is some vulgarity. 4 uses of God’s name or Jesus in vain, 9 other swears mentioned, and one use of b**ch when speaking of a female dog. In addition, Monte calls his typewriter a black-hearted whore.

The story is a pleasant one that moves along like a gentle river. It’s a movie that slows the viewer down, rather than a frenetic, action-packed story that gets you all wound up. If you are looking for a nice movie about second chances and starting over, this is a good one. Sit back with a bowl of popcorn, put up your feet and enjoy.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This is the first movie review I have ever written, and I see a lot of movies. In my humble opinion, this is the best film starring Morgan Freeman I have seen since “The Shawshank Redemption.” Just do yourself a favor and rent it tonight. Deals with biblical principles, family values, and it also includes a feel good ending. Exceptional acting with a story that kept my attention. I plan to watch this film again with my wife and adult daughter.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Bill, age 52 (USA)
Positive—I rented this because of my affinity for Morgan Freeman. This turned out to be a gem of a movie. I think a PG-13 rating would have been more apropos in some areas, due to language—there are a few mild cuss words sprinkled here and there, but for the most part it was really clean. Be warned that Morgan Freeman’s character drinks incessantly, so there is exposure to alcoholism. One of the daughters is seen very briefly in a swimsuit, but nothing revealing is shown, as they were getting ready to swim in a lake. Other than those few things, this story was very heartwarming and sweet.

All together a very enjoyable movie for me and my wife on an impromptu date night.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hank, age 35 (USA)
Positive—The screenplay is no literary classic, but the acting carries the movie. Enjoyable despite the predictability and sometimes cheesy dialog. Watching Morgan Freeman pull this movie out of mediocrity is worth the lesson of how good acting talent can make a movie. The only glaring weak spot was an uncomfortable romance developing between the lead character and a woman more than twenty years younger. It just didn’t seem right.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Bruce, age 48 (USA)
Positive—This movie is a sweet, uplifting movie that is filled with laughter (from me) and turns into a tear-jerker at times, for me. I was so impressed and pleasantly surprised by this movie. It is so refreshing to see a modern movie without constant cursing, nudity and sex. WHY can’t there be more movies like this?! This is a great, must see movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Karenna Compton, age 55 (USA)

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