Film Capsule: The Magic of Belle Isle

Here are 18 leaps of faith any viewer must make in order to enjoy Rob Reiner’s new film, The Magic of Belle Isle:

  1. That the decision to name a movie about an attractive divorcee and a man who represents his own island The Magic of Belle Isle is not a very poor choice of metaphor.
  2. That the appropriate reaction after an unruly drunk in a cowboy hat fires off two warning shots from a gold-plated pistol in the middle of your six-year old’s birthday party is to break into laughter and say, “Well, I guess it’s time for cake!”
  3. That the idea of a drunk, aging writer who has lost the narrative thread is not one of the most played-out cliches in all of Hollywood.
  4. That naming your daughter Willow Tree is not a silly, pretentious thing to do.
  5. That doggy humor is not the screenwriter’s equivalent of mailing it in.
  6. That full-grown men who are mentally handicapped hop around like bunny rabbits all day long.
  7. That full-grown men who are mentally handicapped can be programmed to stop hopping around like bunny rabbits at the drop of a hat.
  8. That it’s not the least bit odd that the full-grown man with a mental handicap in this film has the same first name as Rob Reiner’s father, Carl.
  9. That a proud and brilliant black writer would choose to devote his life’s work to singing the praises of a wild west cowboy as the personification of wholesome American values.
  10. That a proud and brilliant black man who writes about cowboys would just so happen to be named Monte Wildhorn.
  11. That an entire town would collectively wrap its arms around a miserable old drunk who tells each of them to fuck off in no uncertain terms, because they’re all just such wonderfully, well-adjusted human beings.
  12. That Fred Willard is not horribly miscast here.
  13. That all birthday clowns are pissy, arrogant, grizzled assholes.
  14. That mothers don’t get the least bit aggravated when their daughters go digging through their childhood diaries.
  15. That completely irrational fairytale endings are always the best way to go.
  16. That the song “Don’t Worry, Baby” belongs anywhere in this film.
  17. That Rob Reiner was once the director of an Oscar-nominated film.
  18. That this film would’ve been the least bit coherent had it not been for Morgan Freeman.

(The Magic of Belle Isle is now available on Video on Demand with a national theater release scheduled for July 6th.)