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Netflix Summer movie pick 'The Magic of Belle Isle'

Morgan Freeman stars in 'The Magic of Belle Isle,' this week's Neflix Summer pick.
Morgan Freeman stars in 'The Magic of Belle Isle,' this week's Neflix Summer pick.

Ah, the magic performances of Morgan Freeman. The man can take us back in history, to times when black folks were slaves or he can give us a real glimpse into what God would look like should he return. Morgan Freeman is always a sure-fire hit in any film.

This week, I have chosen the film, The Magic of Belle Isle, starring one of my favorite actors; none other than Morgan Freeman.

The summer of 2012 introduced the Rob Reiner flick. To no surprise, Morgan Freeman was nominated for “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” for his role as Monte Wildhorn in The Magic of Belle Isle.

Wildhorn is a character who has plenty of wisdom to offer the world but is in an angry moment of his life. He has been sentenced to a wheelchair because of an accident. During his pro ball playing years he was on the road when a vehicle hit the bus. He lost the use of both legs and his left arm. He did, however, have the use of a creative mind and a witty personality. He still had his wife too and she stayed by his side throughout the years to follow until she could no longer physically manage. She lovingly gave Monte an outlook on life that nobody else could. That was the day Monte sat down at a typewriter and wrote his first novel.

His wife was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away, leaving Monte all alone. The day she died was the day Jubal, Monte’s western novel character died and was buried under the anger. Monte was a successful western novel author at one time. He was now almost out of money and was left with no desire to ever write again.

The film opens with his nephew, Henry (Kenan Thompson) driving Monte to his summer home. The home is on Belle Isle, of course, and was owned by a man everyone dubbed “Dog Dave” due to his ownership of several dogs. One dog was still around after the others were consumed by old age. Dog Dave was a musician and toured with the band. He left Ringo (yellow lab) behind to be watched after by Henry’s uncle Monte.

Monte moves in and immediately begins his out of control drinking habits. He renames Ringo to Spot. While Spot has no spots, he decides it is just a more suitable name for a dog.

Now unwilling to participate in life, Monte sits in solitude and drinks himself into a coma every night. That is, until he meets the beautiful woman next door.

Eventually he comes to know the woman next door who is licking wounds of her own. She is a mother of three daughters and is in the middle of a divorce. The middle daughter is curious about the new tenant next door and immediately moves in to find out more about him.

The relationship blooms between Freeman, the three girls and their mother. Freeman quickly falls for the mom and imagines himself dancing with her in the moonlight.

Freeman’s character may be an ass but he also shows a soft side that is quite charming. Carl Loop, played by Ash Christian, is an adult with some mental disabilities who lives up the street from Monte. Monte befriends the boy and makes him his special assistant named Diego. Monte uses Loop’s love of character play to help the young man along in life.

The brilliance of Christian comes out in this role. He definitely gives Carl Loop breath and life. The mixture of characters is the recipe for a good laugh.

My Opinion of the Film:

For those of you who enjoy Morgan Freeman, you will absolutely love this film. Freeman goes above and beyond, as usual, to give the performance that is hard to forget. The Magic of Belle Isle is no different in terms of the acting capabilities Freeman shares with us in other films. He proves, once again, that acting can lead us into another time, another place. He brings it home. I mean, Morgan Freeman. Need I say more?

Freeman keeps the comical one-liners coming, especially around the dog. Penners Guy Thomas, Rob Reiner and Andrew Sheinman ensure there is always a line or two in the mix that keeps viewers interested. Freeman encapsulates the character and becomes Monte Wildhorn, as he does with most movies.

I enjoy character driven films. The characters in this movie are likeable, even Monte Wildhorn. The humor is subtle and yet it hits a grand slam every time. At times I found it to be a movie I would watch on ABC Family hour and yet, not really. It was a bit over the top for the confines of any family channel in terms of swearing or the drinking habits of one Monte Wildhorn. For those worried about swearing, it’s nothing extraordinary, for sure. It’s light on the bad word usage.

The film is viewable by anyone and would probably be enjoyed by anyone who is breathing. No, it’s not full of explosions or nudity or murders, but it is full of life and love. If for no other reason, the humorous relationship between Wildhorn and Spot, the dog makes it all worthwhile. Wildhorn is “hired” by the middle aged girl, Finnegan, to teach her how to write stories and where to find her imagination. Freeman has you imagining things alongside his protégé, or rather, he has you seeing what isn’t there.

If you happen to watch this film, I would be interested in knowing what you thought. Please leave a comment!


Morgan Freeman as Monte Wildhorn
Kenan Thompson as Henry
Virginia Madsen as Charlotte O’Neil
Emma Fuhrmann as Finnegan O’Neil
Madeline Carroll as Willow O’Neil
Nicolette Pierini as Flora O’Neil
C.J. Wilson as the fire captain
Ash Christian as Carl Loop
Debargo Sanyal as Mahmoud
Fred Willard as Al Kaiser
Jessica Hecht as Karen Loop
Kevin and Tilly as Spot or Ringo the dog

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