This weekend, Duncan, two of my girls (Sarah-14 and Anne Mary-12) and I previewed the film: Little Red Wagon.
The film is the telling of the story based on the life of Zach Bonner, a boy inspired by real life events to get out and make a difference. While viewing the evening news and seeing the devastation nearby families were facing due to a storm, Zach gets inspired to collect the leftover storm supplies from his neighbors to send to the victims of the storm who had lost everything. Through this experience, he learns of the more permanent problem of homelessness and determines to devote his time to making a difference in the lives of children who are without a home. Throughout the course of the film, we see how he goes from simply collecting things from his neighbors to learning how to rally additional support for his worthy cause by utilizing publicity and perseverance. He, along with his mother, learn how to work their way through the bureaucratic red tape that threatened to derail his cause. With his matter-of-fact and calm demeaner, he inspires a few key individuals to support his cause and help him overcome the financial and legal hurdles he faces along the way.
As a complimentary, but separate story line, you learn that one of Zach’s neighborhood friend had to face the loss of his family home and shows how he and his mother struggle- first with paying their rent, then a job loss, then ultimately leading to homelessness. Their life of homelessness spiraled from simply seeking to health, to finally turning to petty theft to survive. This film certainly did not make stealing look acceptable, but it gave us an opportunity to talk with our daughters about her choice and to discuss her options. We also discussed why some people make poor choices during stressful times that others- not affected by the tragedy- can clearly see. These choices often lead to less and less good options. This story line was a good compliment to the movie, but was tied together beautifully at the end, but not in a contrived way- we found ourselves rooting for this family and being thrilled with any small victory they had. This was certainly inspiring to us to want to do our own small part to help others in a hopeless situation.
This film had many positive elements and certainly left us inspired to try to “do our part” in a great cause. However, it certainly earned it’s “PG” rating. I would not let my younger children (ages 7 and 2) see this film. Zach’s sister is an antagonist in this film and is foul-mouthed and sulky throughout most of it, which was very disturbing for my own teen girls. She has a nasty mouth and spends most of her screen time yelling at her mother or discussing her dating life. At age 17 she seems bent on running away and leaving her current situation, elements that would be confusing to a younger viewer. Indeed, at more than one point in the film, she actually packs bags to leave. Frankly, we were ready for her to go near the end of the film. They do try to redeem this part of the story at the end, but by then we were so disgusted with her obvious selfishness and attention seeking behavior, that we were left wondering why this part of the story line was included. Perhaps it was to show that this family was not a fairly-tale family without their own problems, but this could have been accomplished in a less painful way. As for family-friendly, I would agree- as long as your children are older and you are with them to discuss and filter this young lady’s behavior. Her character certainly made me thankful for my own daughters and the relationship we have with them.
Here is the synopsis from Grace Hill Media:
Summary: From the director of “Rudy” and “Hoosiers,” LITTLE RED WAGON is based on the inspirational true story of an eight year old boy’s quest to help homeless children after the devastating Hurricane Charley ripped through his hometown.
Surviving the hurricane unscathed, Zach Bonner’s life was changed forever after watching news reports of the tens of thousands of families left homeless. Wanting to help in any way he could, Zach set out with his trusty, beat-up old red wagon to gather supplies from his neighbors to donate to the Relief Fund.
Against all odds, Zach’s mission to help homeless children was an overwhelming success. As the youngest person to ever create a Foundation, Zach blazing spirit of philanthropy has transformed homelessness not only in his town but in entire communities across America. His “Zach Paks” – a backpack filled with necessities and a toy — are distributed to needy kids across the nation.
To gain support for his cause, Zach walked from his home to the State Capitol…to Washington DC…and ultimately he walked across America to help the nation’s homeless children. Overcoming bureaucrats and blisters, Zach Bonner captured the hearts not only of his family but an entire nation
Talent: Chandler Canterbury, Anna Gunn, Frances O’Connor, Daveigh Chase
Release Date: 11-02-2012
Running Time: 104 minutes
Now for the fun part:
I get to give away a DVD and movie poster of Little Red Wagon! To qualify, leave a comment below and I will draw a winner from among those who comment. For additional chances to win, add a link to this review on facebook, twitter, or your blog and leave me an additional comment to let me know you did it. Contest ends on January 20th.