Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring||Keith Carradine, Mare Winningham, Skyler Day, Ty Pennington, Tom Key, Janice Akers, Anthony Rodriguez, John Lawhorn, Bill Butler, Jasmine Sky, Charles Nuckols IV|
|Distributor||Flying Zebra Films|
As a girl I had many adventures romping around my Aunt’s farm in Iowa. I chased butterflies, which were tiny fairies taking me into the fields to find Sleeping Beauty. I lay in the fresh green grass and gazed up at the peaceful clouds rolling by. Each cloud, of course, held an elephant from a traveling circus, an angel waving as she winged by, a roaring lion cascading through uncharted jungles, and sometimes the very face of God.
Many characters came to life whom I was introduced to through favorite children’s books or Bible stories, most times I made them up as I went along, weaving my day into a tapestry of colorful experiences. Back then, there wasn’t a fast-food burger place or a pizza joint on every corner. There wasn’t 24 hour TV with a cazillion channels. Mom made her own pizza, and we savored her homemade milk shakes, which were a treat not the norm. When the family went out to eat, it was a special occasion. We all dressed up and we looked forward to drinking a coke because there was no such thing as scooting off to the store for a 2 liter. Family picnics were not reserved for big, elaborate family reunions, by invitation only and held once every couple of years. The family got together every Sunday after Church and truly enjoyed each other’s company. It would have been unheard of NOT to see my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends less than twice a week.
Around these family sessions were shaped the children’s values and morals. To sit on Grandpa’s lap and listen to his stories or drink in the reminisces of the women reciting the true tales of their girlhood days were where we absorbed our sense of love and family. Bedtime stories, Bible verses shared, nightly prayers all were to shape our inner character and enhance our imaginations. From all this sprang our playtime adventures. There was no need for outside stimulus like our modern day children have grown not just accustomed to, but to need. They seem lost when told to go out and “play.” I’ve watched with regret as childhood has lost it’s sense of wonder and adventure. Our modern culture encourages children to grow up way too fast with ready made ideas and thoughts. We are a pre-fab society. We fabricate everything for our children and sadly we watch as they don’t have an opportunity to make believe.
To experience a world of adventure that only allowing them to play and produce on their own can give. I found hope for this generation to stimulate a sense of wonder and fun again, to trust in Biblical values and find the sense of imagination, Godly love, and miracle in “The Adventures of Ociee Nash!”
In 1898 it is not easy for a farmer to raise three children on his own. Papa Nash (played with warmth by Keith Carridine) has his hands full keeping together his brood. His love for his children is never in question and their love and respect for him is skillfully displayed through the acting and script. A refreshing wake up call to parents these days who don’t seem to know what these values are or how to get them. They are the way of life for these real life characters who give us the gift of example here. Don’t believe for one minute that your kids will not pick up on this. Children are sponges and what you allow them to drink up will saturate their lives and morals. Remember to train up a child in the way he should go and in his adult life he will not sway from it. Don’t let the world fool you—exposing children to what is right has never been wrong.
Nine year old Ociee (a wide-eyed, determined performance by Skyler Day) and her close in age brother Ben (a wonderfully convincing Bill Butler) spend more time having adventures than doing their chores. Papa and big brother Fred (Charles Nuckols IV) have their hands full getting spunky Ociee and Ben to stay close to home. Brothers and sister are close, and although they may not agree, you never once get the impression that there is rivalry. There is true comradery and love between them, and this is a refreshing turn from all those “kid” movies that are out there today subliminally telling this generation that you gotta fight, cuss and climb your way to the top over your siblings.
Love is shown throughout this film. What a great example of God’s love as the Psalmist proclaims: All the ways of The Lord are loving. One day Ociee spies a Gypsy (performed complete with bandana, roaring laugh and foggy eye by Anthony Rodriguez) on their property and convinces Ben to accompany her to flush him out of his Gypsy wagon. Their prank comes back to haunt them when Ociee is left at home to tend to her chores while Papa and boys run errands. Ociee is visited by the Gypsy John Leon for what she first believes may be to her peril, but soon they become great friends. Papa, though, is becoming more and more concerned not only for Ociee’s safety, but for her need to learn to be a real lady like her beautiful Mother was.
Reluctantly, Papa makes the hard decision out of love for Ociee, that she needs to go and live with her proper and lady-like Aunt in Asheville. The scene where Papa tells Ociee of his hard decision is a beautiful example of love and understanding between children and parents. Although Ociee and her brothers are heartbroken over their impending separation, they accept it with love and servitude to their Papa, knowing his decisions are wise and what’s right for all. It was so encouraging to see unswerving love and respect for wisdom in these characters. Just as our Lord knows what is beneficial for us and will never let us down, so is the faith shown by these children in their father. I Corinthians 1:10 tells us: Agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Put on a train bound for Asheville and her Aunt’s council, Ociee embarks upon greater adventures than she had ever expected, meeting historical legends and figures along the way. This part of the film was done very well, although I had hoped for more interaction between Ociee and these familiar historical characters. Best done was the dialog between our heroin and President William McKinley (Daniel Burnley) and also her discussion with Nellie Bly (Donna Wright). These encounters let kids know that nothing is impossible, and that one can make a difference in any situation, as The Lord is in control. Job 5:9 says this perfectly: He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted!
Once in Asheville, Aunt Mamie (a perfectly cast Mare Winningham) tries to stifle her exasperation over Ociee’s tom-boyish escapade. Dresses and bows are traded for britches and bare feet. Although a tall order, friends are made out of tough situations. Ociee’s character gains strength by showing respect for her elders. Again I found this aspect a wonderful teacher to the crowds of children who will view this film. By today’s standards if you show your courage and strength, you will get love and respect. In God’s message to our hearts, it’s really the other way around! Don’t be disrespectful to your elders, for in the long run the wisdom of these, if taken on, will strengthen you in every good deed and word. (Taken loosely from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
As the film draws to the big finish, Ociee courageously saves her best friend’s life. She rescues Elizabeth (sweetly demure Jasmine Sky) from the flames invading her burning home! In turn Elizabeth learns to trust in her friend and to overcome her fears. Although small and perhaps unnoticed by some, there is a beautiful expression of thankfulness in the following scene by the parents of young Elizabeth who were frantic over the possible loss of their beloved daughter. They are portrayed as a very prosperous family with much wealth in material things, but at this moment when their daughter is saved and restored by Ociee’s heroism, their expression of gratitude is underscored by the statement that all their material possessions are worth nothing compared to their daughter. As we all should note, to teach our children that all material things are as rags compared to the Love of Jesus and His Word.
When all is said and done, if we lost all our material possessions and wealth to the fire, if we have love we have lost nothing.
Ociee is celebrated with her own special “Ociee Nash Day” by the grateful towns folk as the movie concludes. She is given flowers and speeches are said, even a letter from her “friend” the President of The United States is read to the adoring crowd and much appreciated by Ociee, but the best “gift” of all is the surprise appearance of her cherished Papa and brothers. Although her adventures had brought her much recognition and friends it wasn’t all Ociee needed in her spirit. Romans 5:3-4 helps us through by this bequest: We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance: perseverance, character: and character, hope. All this Ociee Nash found through the course of this film and is what our children need to pick up on and incorporate into their lives Yet, in the end Ociee most needed love. Love was her strength. Love was her courage. God is Love.—1 John 4:8.
This wonderfully directed film (with a not seen often in this generation “G” Rating—no profanities and no violence or nudity) is a fine entertaining piece that holds the audience’s attention well. Children from about age 6 to “tweens” will especially like it. The producers have taken the time to develop a rich and rewarding story. It is full of what we need to expose our children to: love, forgiveness, respect, sacrifice and trust.
“The Adventures of Ociee Nash” is based on the award winning novel A Flower Blooms On Charlotte Street and should prove to be an enduring family favorite. Amy McGary and Kristen McGary have taken from the pen of Milam McGraw Propst a true tale of what childhood is and should remain to be. A wonderful adventure!
Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None