Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 2021. Third Coast Content, Endeavor Content, Mucho Mas Media, Provident Films, Reserve Entertainment. Screenplay by Chris Dowling, Julio Quintana. Cinematography by Santiago Benet Mari. Produced by Javier Chapa, Chris George, Ben Howard, Darren Moorman, Trey Reynolds. Music by Hanan Townshend. Production Design by Mailara Santana. Costume Design by Irene Freundt.
A Florida boys’ orphanage that is barely getting by is threatened with closure thanks to the lack of support funding coming in. Its optimistic director (Jimmy Gonzales), himself a survivor of a rough childhood and his own brushes with the wrong side of the law, is now on the straight and narrow and believes he can keep things going and prevent these kids from ending up on the street. A local fishing competition offers a $25,000 reward for the catching of the largest marlin, inspiring him to look up a broken-down, over the hill boat captain (Dennis Quaid) and enlist his skills. Quaid has won the competition twice already, but it has done little for his private life, living alone on his boat after being left by his wife and kid and spending his days on his boat. He is reluctant to participate but eventually relents, and the film spends days on the open water as the gruff captain softens around the good-natured kids for whom he is trying to win the big prize. Little does Gonzales know, though, that Quaid has some private sorrows of his own that involve a big secret that could affect the outcome. In terms of that outcome, there’s far too much Disneyfication in the way the orphans are presented for you to believe that this is a film about learning to live with disappointment, the actors practically break out in song at every turn (and have a surprisingly easy time struggling with a sea creature that once made Spencer Tracy’s hands bloody for days on end), but it’s a beautifully shot and good-natured family film that has moments of sharp wisdom: Quaid hearing the boys compare their bodily scars from childhood abuse is a sharp scene in which the actor takes the experience in without registering anything overt. Director Julio Quintana thankfully doesn’t overplay a moment that forms the emotional centre of a warm and satisfying watch.