Review: The Magic of Belle Isle
2.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund
That the The Magic of Belle Isle can conjure any true feeling at all is some kind of wonder. Set in upstate New York, at the idyllic lakeside town of the title, this gooey reteaming of Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman is crammed tight with baldly manipulative elements, its tearjerker quota busting at the seams. A cute dog, a mentally challenged neighbor, a caricatured Muslim cashier, a precocious young girl, her adorable sisters, a kindly single mom, and Freeman's redemption-bound curmudgeon are all accounted for, in a setting where the sun kisses everything and everyone knows your name. Freeman's character, a washed-up, wheelchair-bound author, goes by the name of Monte Wildhorn, and like the hero in the western novel that made his career, Monte exudes the moody heartache of a lonely cowboy—or, at least, that's what we're supposed to think. When Monte moves into a rent-free cabin with little more than a snarl, a Larry McMurtry typewriter, and a soon-to-be-replenished supply of scotch, he's greeted by all but the violins.